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Young South Dakota Girl Battling MRSA

By Kelli Grant
Published: February 3, 2010, 6:10 PM

It's called the super bug and can't be treated with common antibiotics. That's why when MRSA takes over a body, the prognosis can be life threatening.

A South Dakota family is dealing with the lasting effects of the bacteria but doesn't know where it came from.
It's a parent's worst nightmare. Their child has a fever and then they're admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. For the Gregor Family, it's reality, all 23 days of it.

Hooked up to an IV machine, nine-year-old Allie Gregor is getting used to spending her days and nights at Sanford Children's Hospital.

With antibiotics running through her system at least 11 hours a day and a feeding tube in her nose to supplement lost calories, this little girl has never been this sick.

"She had sprained her ankle at school, just a slight sprain and was hopping on it a little bit, but wasn't bothersome," Allie's mom, Nicole Gregor, said.

But the sprain may have led to her temperature, aching body and it could have been what set off a serious staph infection that nearly took her life.

"One thing we've learned with this organism, it's extremely violent and it's extremely fast and the symptoms come on quite suddenly and the children go from being well to being very, very sick," Dr. Joe Segeleon, a pediatric critical care physician for Sanford Health, said.

When Segeleon first saw Allie, she was in septic shock. Days later in surgery, doctors found MRSA, a serious infection, in her knee and ankle bones.

"What's interesting is that many of these children have incidental trauma. In other words, trauma that you wouldn't even get to an emergency room for or that really the parent wouldn't be that concerned and yet they show up a couple of days later with this very serious life threatening infection," Segeleon said.

Doctor's couldn't find an open sore to signal where the infection entered her body.

"It shows in spots, you can easily see where it was from a cut on the finger or scratch but not where you have no entry wounds. I didn't know it was possible," Gregor said.

But it is possible it got into her system through a cut that has since healed.

After a week on a ventilator and three surgeries, Allie has a long road ahead. The infection has caused a valve in her heart to leak, she's battling a blood clot and still having trouble moving around. But her health is starting to improve.

"Up to five laps now without stopping. It's a big accomplishment from when we first started with physical therapy and she wouldn't sit up," Gregor said.

Allie could go home next week, where her mom hopes she'll soon be dancing down the hallway.

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