ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – What a family thought to be a flu took an almost deadly turn for a 2 year old girl.
She is now clinging to life at the St. Louis Children's Hospital with a 50% chance of survival.
Layla Thomas spends almost 10 days in the pediatric intensive care unit and the disease started with what appeared to be simple flu-like symptoms
"She just had a runny nose, maybe a little coughed but nothing extraordinary that we had never seen before," said Layla's aunt, Jessica Kile.
Layla's mother was too emotional to speak in front of a camera, but Kile said on March 18 that Layla's symptoms worsened.
She was taken to hospital with a fever of 107 degrees.
"They put it in touch with everything imaginable," Kile said. "She is completely insensitive and makes small eye movements."
Doctors have diagnosed necrotic encephalitis, a rare complication of the flu that now attacks Layla's brain.
"We are still seeing a high number of influenza cases in the Saint-Louis area," said Dr. Rachel Orscheln, an infectious disease specialist.
Orscheln said that warning signs such as drowsiness, convulsions and loss of appetite could mean something more serious.
"Even with appropriate antiviral treatments, some of these serious complications can lead to permanent disability or even death," she said.
For now, all the family can do is wait, hoping that their bubbly 2-year-old is the exception.
"She's really in love, just a bug and we just pray to get her back," Kile says.
The family has set up a GoFundMe to help cover medical expenses.