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A 9-year-old boy in Milpitas, California died after contracting a common infection among children, baffling his parents and some doctors who now call for a public health investigation.
Tristan Michael Ang passed away at an intensive care unit on June 28, six days after “a mild summer bug” began to present more serious signs and symptoms, including confusion, forgetfulness and terrible headaches.
Ang tested positive for adenovirus, a group of viruses with 52 known strains. Adenoviruses typically cause respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, cough and sore throat, as well as conjunctivitis, also known as “pink eye.”
By Ang’s age, nearly all children have been infected with at least one strain of the virus. However, it’s unclear what strain infected him.
“It’s very unexpected. [He was] very healthy and all of a sudden, he’s gone,” Ang’s mother, Belle, told KTVU.
Convinced that he was only “too tired, a little bit dehydrated,” his father, Mark, said that they gave him Tylenol (paracetamol) and Motrin (ibuprofen). “It would go away but not totally, and it would come back.”
Certain strains of adenovirus can cause more severe illnesses like pneumonia, and worse, infections in the central nervous system, such as encephalitis and meningitis. Ang’s tests ruled out the latter.
“These are normal childhood infections — it’s almost shocking when you see somebody die from this,” Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Stanford, told the San Francisco Chronicle. She has not seen the details of Ang’s case.
Meanwhile, Dr. Charles Chiu, director of the UCSF-Abbott Viral Diagnostics and Discovery Center, told the outlet that such a case — an unusual death from adenovirus — warrants a public health investigation.
“We can’t really vaccinate the entire population for an extremely rare disease, which this is with respect to it causing severe illness.”
Ang, who was about to enter fourth grade, held a black belt and multiple awards in Taekwondo. His family described him as “very patient and very helpful, especially with the unfortunate.”
Fortunately, none of Ang’s family members — including two younger siblings — have been sick.
A GoFundMe page is currently accepting donations to help them recover financially.