Children's Hospital Colorado Diagnoses 16-Year-Old with Lemierre's Syndrome

What 16-year-old Michael Safranka originally thought was nothing more than the strep throat turned out to be Lemierre's syndrome, a rare condition that most doctors have not seen since the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s.

Michael and his mother, Dawn, visited several hospitals before they finally reached the correct diagnosis at Children's Hospital Colorado. Dr. Mary Glode and others at Children's were able to diagnose his condition as Lemierre's syndrome. According to Dr. Glode, what makes Lemierre's syndrome different from a normal throat infection is how quickly it can spread. It begins as an infection in the throat, spreads to the lymph nodes, next to the infected tonsil and then gets into a nearby blood vessel. Once there, it forms an infected blood clot. As the clot starts to break up, every piece ends up landing somewhere else in the body and that sets up other sites of infection. Once the infection starts to spread this way, the body starts to shut down.

In Michael's case, the infection spread to his lungs, which started to produce infected blood clots of their own. By the time he reached Children's Hospital Colorado Michael's organs had begun shutting down. Fortunately for Michael and his family, doctors were able to use clinical clues and lab tests to diagnosis his condition as Lemierre's syndrome and began appropriate treatment immediately. Michael has is now recuperating at home and receiving intravenous antibiotics three times a day.

Read more about Michael Safranka and his rare condition.