An 11-year-old boy in Florida, Jesse Brown, has lost his life after being infected with flesh-eating bacteria that caused his brain to swell. Jesse, a 5th-grader at the Lakemont Elementary School, fell from a treadmill some weeks ago and sustained a light bruise. His cousin, Megan Brown, said he twisted his ankle on the treadmill and his family thought it was a minor thing that could be treated.

Boy Dies from Swollen Brain after Flesh-Eating Bacteria Infection Following Treadmill Fall

But a few days later, he woke up a few days later with red-like bruises covering his leg. He was taken to the hospital, where he has diagnosed with a Strep A infection and a swollen brain. Doctors said the bacteria possibly entered his bloodstream through the bruise he got at the treadmill fall.

“His whole leg was covered in like splotchy, purply, red, almost like bruises,” Megan stated. “They said that because he rolled his ankle, that that’s likely where the infection attacked it. Because it was already weak. In my mind, I was in complete disbelief. I was like, ‘He’ll be fine. This could never happen to our family.’”

Jesse’s parents got pregnant with him 10 years after their marriage. His parents considered him their “miracle child” and he excelled at BMX and Motocross competitions. Megan said, “he was just such an old soul. Like, everybody was like, ‘He’s such a little adult,’ like, in this little, tiny body, you know?”

An infectious disease expert at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Dr. Alan Cross, said Strep A bacteria is abundant in the soil and in the environment around us. He said the bacteria can infect the body through open wounds and grow from a minor infection to a serious toxin. He said it is best to clean wounds immediately and have them treated by medical personnel.

A pediatrician in Orlando, Dr. Candice Jones, said there has been an increase in cases of Strep A infections in recent times. She said the warning signs to look out for include swelling, redness, foul smell, and fever. She added that this is the same bacteria that causes strep throat and can cause flesh-eating manifestation in certain instances.

“Some of the speculations has been that some of those cases started after respiratory infections, and we had been seeing an uptick in those types of infections anyway post-pandemic,” Jones said.

The Lakemont Elementary School started a memorial fundraiser for Jesse. “While Jesse was a miracle to his parents and family, he was also a true blessing to his Lakemont family,” the school said. “Jesse was kind and compassionate, looked out for others, adventurous, and truly an amazing friend and classmate.”