Tragic News: 8-Year-Old Dies From Flesh-Eating Bacteria

January 27, 2018
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A boy from eastern Oregon died in Portland over the weekend after an eight-day battle with flesh-eating bacteria.

The boy’s mother, Sara Hebard, told reporters that she wants to warn other parents about how easily and quickly this disease spreads, explaining that the tragedy all started when her son fell off his bike.

She explained that her 8-year-old son Liam Flanagan was riding his bike on the driveway of his family’s farm in pilot rock when he took a bad fall.

The boy went to the emergency room in nearby Pendleton with a bloody thigh wound near his groin.

Hebard said that Liam was stitched up with seven stitches and that she thought that should have been the end of it, but Liam complained of pain.

At first, Hebard said that she treated it with Tylenol, but the pain seemed to get worse – much worse.

Hebard said that they took him back to the hospital in Pendleton where he had emergency surgery.

The boy was then airlifted to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland where he underwent several more surgeries.

Flesh-eating bacteria can spread very quickly. Doctors tried to cut it out from muscle and tissue stretching from Liam’s ankle to his armpit.

Hebard is still in shock that all of this started when her son fell off his bicycle.

“It wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t a bad one. It just needed a few stitches is all, that’s it,” she told FOX 12. “And he was taking it like a trooper. I mean, how… how… that’s what I ask – how? And there’s just no answer.

Liam Flanagan died last Sunday in Portland. He was a second-grader at Pilot Rock Elementary School.

Hebard said that Liam was a sweet, kind boy who never made an enemy and made everyone around him happy. Her advice to other parents is simple.

“I would have to say for one, hug your children tight because you never know how quickly it goes, and then to pay attention to them and don’t just take for granted it could just be a simple accident,” she said. “And to spread awareness because people don’t know. I had never even heard of this before.”

Schools Urge Parents To Keep Sick Kids Home To Stop Flu From Spreading

The Centers For Disease Control says that 30 children have died from influenza in the US this flu season.

While some children are more susceptible to the virus than others because of pre-existing conditions, the flu can be deadly for almost anyone.

The ones I’m reading about were your typically healthy kid who just got sick and all the sudden wasn’t with us anymore,” Jeannie Bisard, Chief Nurse for Lyon County School District said.

The school district sent out letters to its students’ parents this week, encouraging them to keep their kids home from school if they are sick or have symptoms of an illness.

We really want parents to understand that you have to keep your kids home if they’re not feeling well, if they’re coughing, if they’re running a fever, just so they’re not spreading their germs to all their friends,” Bisard said.

Bisard says that this is one of the worst flu seasons for children that she has seen during her 35-year career.

There are many other illnesses going around this season as well.

We are seeing a lot of kids coming in, runny noses, coughs, just feeling rotten,” Bisard said. “We’ve also had a lot of tummy bugs running around.”

The school district teaches its students the importance of hygiene, in order to prevent illnesses.

Sheri Weakly-Banks teaches Pre-K at Fernley Elementary School. She says that her students wash their hands at least three times a day.

“Every time we come in from recess, we do it before we go to lunch, and we use hand sanitizer in between,” Weakly-Banks said. “We really work with them if they sneeze or if I see them touching their nose, go get a tissue, go wash your hands because I always tell them ‘I like you but I don’t like your germs.’”

Weakly-Banks says that the new year is off to a good start, but there were a few weeks before the Christmas break where some of her students missed as many as two weeks of school due to an illness.

“My class hasn’t been hit too hard, but I’m hoping our washing our hands is part of that because we do it a lot,” Weakly-Banks said.

If children have symptoms, they are encouraged to stay home for at least 24 hours after the last episode. 

The school district also hopes the students and parents will work together when they are at home to wash their hands and disinfect surfaces.

“If the parents and the kids can work together, to keep reminding each other, it will be able to prevent a large amount of disease processes,” Bisard said.

The school district had a flu shot clinic for students and staff in September, shortly after the school term started.  While some did not get a flu shot, experts say that the best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated.

It’s not too late to get a flu shot either.

“Flu shots are available everywhere,” Bisard said. “So, we’re definitely encouraging everybody that hasn’t gotten a flu shot yet to go get it.”

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