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4-year-old who lost her vision after rare complication from the flu regains her eyesight

Girl loses vision from flu complication
Iowa girl loses vision after rare complication from the flu 01:48

A 4-year-old girl who lost her vision after a rare complication from the flu has regained her sight, family members announced this week. Jade DeLucia contracted the flu late last year; she survived the virus, but a rare complicating infection was attacking her brain.

While Jade was able to leave the hospital, the physician who treated her there, Dr. Alex Bassuk, told CBS News in January it was hard to tell if she would regain her sight. 

Jade's mother, Amanda Phillips, was just happy her daughter survived and was hopeful about a full recovery. "She's started to talk a lot more, so it's awesome to see her personality come back," she told CBS News in January.

Phillips started a Facebook page to provide family and friends with updates on Jade's health. Phillips' mom, Courtney Frey, took over posting in the group on March 6 so Phillips could take a break, she said.

On Monday, Frey posted an important update: "Jade's sight has fully returned! The miracles continue for her!!!"

Frey also wrote that Jade is still showing signs of brain damage and "She is not the great independent conversationalist who knows her numbers and letters, but we are continuing to believe and hope in her full recovery."

4-year-old Jade DeLucia lost her vision from a rare complication after she contracted the flu. Her family recently announced she has regained eyesight, but still has some brain damage. Amanda Phillips

Frey added that "some days are better than others" in the healing process. 

On March 1, Phillips shared with the group what caused Jade's loss of vision. She suffered from acute necrotizing encephalopathy (ANE) type 1, also known as susceptibility to infection-induced acute encephalopathy 3 or IIAE3. 

ANE is a is a rare type of brain disease that occurs following a viral infection such as the flu, according to the NIH National Library of Medicine.

Phillips explained ANE is rare, but parents should always take precautions when their children are sick. She urged others to keep kids home when they are showing symptoms, take them to the doctor and always check on them — even when they're sleeping.

"We put our daughter to bed and she never woke up the same," Phillips wrote. "I will never forget holding her heavy body against mine in the shower with her eyes in the back of her head or the days that turned to weeks hoping for a miracle."

Phillips also said Jade is getting a genetic test done to see if she is susceptible to this happening again if she gets sick.

The girl's story also sparked renewed calls for children to get the flu vaccine. Jade got a flu shot last March, but did not get one for the current season, which began in the fall of 2019. 

"The key point in this case is that it has to happen every season," Bassuk said. "The vaccine is not once-in-a-lifetime vaccine," he said. "It doesn't last a year." 

The onset of this flu season was the earliest since 2003 and it's hitting children particularly hard. The flu has already killed 20,000 Americans this season, including 136 children, the CDC says.

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