Newport teen stuns doctors after being diagnosed with infection affecting just one in a million
PUBLISHED: 06:00 27 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:05 27 July 2017
A teenager from Newport is recovering after being struck down with a potentially fatal syndrome affecting just one in a million people.
Cameron Burnett, 18, was at home on June 27 when he developed a sore throat.
“I thought nothing of it,” he said.
“The next day I still had a sore throat and felt a bit rubbish, but then I started throwing up and not feeling myself. I thought I was just ill and it would go soon, but it wasn’t right – I was on the sofa shivering and didn’t want to move.”
Worried, Cameron texted his father and former paramedic, Tim, 47, asking for help.
“It was the early hours of the morning,” Tim remembered.
“With Cameron, if he’s ill he’ll just fob it off as nothing. When he text me I knew something was wrong. He looked like death. He was so pale.”
Now with his father, in Elsenham, Cameron was put to bed with a temperature of 41 and shakes so bad that Tim had to hold him while he slept.
“He slept and I thought it was done,” Tim said.
“But he called me into his room the next morning and said ‘help me’. For Cameron to feel like that, it’s bad. He was scared to be alone.”
After visiting the doctor on July 3, Cameron was rushed to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, with suspected sepsis – something which was confirmed after a series of tests.
He had also developed pneumonia, but, days on, doctors still could not work out how.
Tim said: “The bloods came back and the doctor said he had got Lemierre’s Syndrome, and the reason why we couldn’t find it is because it’s mega rare.
“The doctor said that because it’s so rare he was going to have everybody come round his bed talking to him. He was like a little personality.”
Cameron added: “He said that in 32 years of doing it, he’s seen four cases. I was sat up in bed and he said he had never seen someone on the fifth day like that.”
Cameron developed the syndrome after the bacteria in his throat seeped into is blood stream, causing sepsis.
A clot had then formed in his neck and travelled to his lung – the pneumonia – narrowly avoiding his brain.
“It could have been fatal,” Tim said.
“We could have gone to the doctors earlier and, although he had a high temperature, they could have sent him home. He then could have come back with worse symptoms, but within that week the infection has grown and would have become more serious.
“I’m so glad we went at the time we did and the doctor was that clued up because it could have been a lot worse.”
After spending nine days in hospital, losing a stone in weight, and rearranging looming coursework deadlines, Cameron is now on the road to recovery.
“I’m an active person, but the other day I tried to jog to my car and thought ‘that’s not happening’ because my legs and tummy started aching, so I might leave that a while.
“I find it really cool that I fought three diseases at once.”
What is Lemierre’s Syndrome?
Lemierre’s Syndrome is a rare condition which affects about one in a million people, with potentially lethal results.
The syndrome develops when bacteria from the back of the throat find their way into the jugular veins in the neck, causing clots.
These can then break off and cause pockets of infection elsewhere, such as in the lungs, liver and brain.
Before antibiotics were available, the syndrome was fatal in about 90% of people who developed it.
It usually occurs in younger people, and symptoms include a sore throat, fever and chills, a cough and neck pain.
If left untreated, the syndrome can lead to organ failure, abscesses, meningitis and even death.
The condition is diagnosed through blood tests which are able to pick up the types of bacteria causing the infection, as well as CT scans and ultrasounds which show the clots. Antibiotics are then administered, usually via an IV drip, for two to six weeks.