H1N1 Can Lead to Encephalitis in Kids

H1N1 vaccine, swine flu, virus, generic
CBS
Children are among those hit hard in the H1N1 outbreak. And now, health officials are keeping an eye on a potentially deadly complication. CBS News correspondent Karen Brown reports on how scary it can be when a child comes down with H1N1 and encephalitis.

Anthony Turachak's parents are glued to his side at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. His mother, Angie Turachak, says she hasn't left him since they got there. They almost lost their four-year-old when H1N1 led to encephalitis, a critical brain infection.

"It was the like the worst thing you could think of," said Jeff Turachak, Anthony's father. ""Time comes like this, and you just don't know what to do. Here you are helpless."

After a few days of fever, Anthony's mom brought him to the emergency room. Within the hour, they were in the intensive care unit.

"They did the CAT scan and saw the inflammation on his brain," said Angie.

Doctors at the Children's Hospital say in the last six weeks they've seen five cases of H1N1 encephalitis. The patients had flu symptoms but also showed signs of problems in their central nervous systems, like seizures, changes in their mental status and even personality changes.

CBSNews.com Special Report: H1N1 Virus

"This is part of the emerging disease of H1N1 that we need to better understand," said Dr. Erika Fink.

After a handful of similar pediatric cases in Texas this spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report about a potential connection between H1N1 and encephalitis. It is now monitoring for cases nationwide.

But Anthony's prognosis is good.

"He is getting better and we are happy he's still here," said Angie.

But they 're not leaving his side until he's well enough to play with his toys again.