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Friday, September 25, 2009

Another article!!

Lemierre Syndrome,
The Forgotten Disease,
Making a Comeback threatening our children’s lives
By Debby Kwiecien
Feature Writer

“When tragedy strikes you change,” said Tammy Valencia. “You look at things
differently.” Tammy’s talking about her 17-year-old brother, Justin Rodgers that passed away
May 12, 2008, the day after Mother’s Day. Justin was a junior at Eureka High School that year and he was getting ready to go to the prom when he began feeling ill. His mom took him to the doctor who checked for strep-throat and gave him a z-pac and told him to go home and
rest; he’d be fine. A few days later Justin was still sick; he had flu-like symptoms
and a bad case of sore throat. This time Mom took him to St. Anthony Hospital’s emergency room and they promptly transferred him to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. By the time
Justin was diagnosed a week later with lemierre syndrome he was on a respirator and in a drug induced coma, running a fever of 107. He began bleeding internally and was placed on an ECMO machine that filters and cleans the blood. Amonth after being hospitalized Justin passed away.
“The doctors think it may have been caused by either a fight that broke his nose or some dental work he’d recently had done,” said Tammy. “But they’re not really sure.” Lemierre Syndrome, the Forgotten Disease, is a fast acting illness with flu-like symptoms, a severe sore throat and high fever [106 or more]. The fusobacteria embeds itself into the jugular vein and when it begins breaking down it spreads into the rest of the body, through the bloodstream, wreaking irreversible havoc, especially on the lungs or kidneys. Prior to 1936 the mortality rate for lemierre syndrome was 96%; after the widespread use of penicillin the disease was virtually wiped out. According to Tammy there have been only 120 cases in the last 100 years; however, in the last 5 to 6 years it is estimated that there will be 1000 cases every 10 to 15 years and today the cases of lemierre’s syndrome have risen to 100 deaths out of 1000 documented cases.
What’s truly sad is that the disease is curable, if diagnosed quickly with a simple throat swab in the doctor’s office and treated accurately with a simple dose of penicillin. Before Justin passed away Tammy began asking questions. She started with her own children’s pediatrician. “He pulled out this huge medical book,” she said. “And, looked it up. There was only one short paragraph about it without much information.”
That spurred Tammy on to find out more and to start blogging [an online journal]
at about what happened to
Justin. She strongly believes that because physicians have been cutting back on the
use of penicillin to treat their patients it is causing this disease to resurface. She and
her family also decided to start the Justin E. Rodgers Foundation for Lemierres
Awareness, Inc., [JRFLA] in order to get the word out to other families about this
life threatening disease that is totally curable. Visit for
more information about the disease.
Tammy has also made it her mission to contact every doctor, every hospital, and
every healthcare facility in the US with information about lemierre syndrome. She
has already mailed out 750 letters to emergent care facilities across the US. She is
on a mission to save lives and does not plan to stop until she has made as many
healthcare professionals aware of this as possible.
The JRFLA has teamed up with Elaine Rosi Academy for Children’s fifth annual
golf tournament to be held Sept. 26, 2009 at the Sugar Creek Golf Course. There
is a 7 a.m. shotgun start, 4-person scramble [$99.95 per golfer] with golf pro shop
awards, cash awarded for first place in multiple flights, prizes for longest drive and
closest to pin, $25,000 hole in one prize, unlimited beer, soda and water, complimentary
grilled lunch buffet, optional skins games for $5 per golfer, raffles and
50/50s. For more information or to sign up call Tammy at 314-566-4970.
JRFLA is also holding a walkathon at Lions Park in Eureka October 17 at 10
a.m. There will be hotdogs and hamburgers available for purchase, anyone is invited
to come and walk and there will be silicone bracelets for sale. Watch the
Current’s Community Calendar for more information. Or visit www.lemierresyndromjrodgers. for updates.

1 comment:

Janice (Dean's Mom) said...

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Justin's news article in the West Magazine

This was taken from

Rockwood student dies rapidly from little-known disease
By Diane Plattner

In April, Eureka High School student Justin Rodgers began to complain of a severe sore throat and was dead approximately one month later from an unfamiliar disease. Now, his mother hopes to spread awareness about the deadly disease.
Justin died in the early morning hours of May 12, the day after Mother’s Day, after losing a battle with Lemierre’s Syndrome, a serious bacteria that is not well-known and even doctors are prone to misdiagnose the disease. Unfortunately, Rodgers’ doctor was among that group after initially diagnosing him with strep throat on April 11, said Sheryl Rodgers, Justin’s mother.
“Justin had said, ‘Mom, this is the worst sore throat I’ve ever had in my life,’” Rodgers said.
She said that Justin’s doctor took no throat culture and gave her son medicine for strep throat. She said her son’s condition worsened over the next few days during which he had increased high fever, chest pain and a lump in his neck. On April 14, Rodgers took her son to St. Anthony’s Hospital, which transported him overnight to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital where he underwent extensive testing, including X-rays and blood work, Rodgers said.
Rodgers said that hospital officials diagnosed him with Lemierre’s Syndrome, a bacteria that can surface after mouth trauma. Last July, Justin was in a car accident that resulted in mouth injuries that required him to get major dental work, including a recent new tooth. In addition, Justin had suffered a broken nose just before the onset of his sore throat, his mother said.
“I wonder if all this woke up the bacteria, which was already living in the body,” Rodgers said.
The last time Rodgers saw him fully awake was a few days later, when hospital officials decided to place her son on a respirator and sedate him with drugs.
“He was out of it but still with us then,” Rodgers said. “He would frown when the doctors worked on him. So he had some responses.”
However, Justin’s lungs kept collapsing, prompting hospital doctors by April 25 to place him on an ECMO machine to help rest his lungs and heart. Doctors at that point also put him into an induced coma, Rodgers said.
“At that point there was no response from Justin,” Rodgers said. “Still, I talked to him and rubbed his sore spots to let him know we were there.”
By Mother’s Day, Justin was leaking too much blood, prompting doctors to decide to remove him from the ECMO, a move they said was risky if his lungs were not healed enough.
“Once they took him off the ECMO, Justin’s face was getting gray,” Rodgers said. “He was holding his own for a few hours, but then he starting going downhill.”
Justin died early the next morning following Mother’s Day with his immediate family, including three older siblings, by his side, Rodgers said.
“He was our baby,” Rodgers said. “I think the hospital tried to keep him going so he did not die on Mother’s Day.”
The tragedy is not the first for the Rodgers family. They also lost a 4-year-old child in a horseback riding accident and had a stillborn child many years ago, Rodgers said.
“I thought God could not possibly do this to us again,” Rodgers said. “I asked why again, why us. But there is no answer. Here we are walking on egg shells again.”
Rodgers said she was at least thankful that Justin’s funeral was so big that people were standing outside, a huge tribute to his life. She also hopes to honor his life with a campaign to help spread awareness about Lemierre’s Syndrome, which she said often hits people between the ages of 14 and 25. It is not spread by kissing but instead lives in the body, she said. Her goal is to make people, including doctors, more aware of its symptoms so they are not mistaken for strep throat.
“I do not want Justin to have died in vain,” Rodgers said. “This is one bad bacteria. It is very serious. People should not treat it lightly.”
To learn more about Lemierre’s Syndrome, visit the Rodgers’ family Web site at