Colds and flu

04 September 2012

14-year-old SA girl dies of rare disease

Fourteen-year-old Carla Serfontein died yesterday of necrotic pneumonia, after spending 18 days in an induced coma in the hope she could survive the infection attacking her lungs.


A Pietermaritzburg teenager has died of a rare disease that destroys lung tissue, the Witness reported on Tuesday.

Image: The Witness

Carla Serfontein died on Monday of necrotic pneumonia after spending 18 days in an induced coma.

Her mother Deidre Serfontein said Carla was only sick for a day and a half before she decided to take her to hospital.

Dr Brett Cullis, an intensive care specialist, said necrotic pneumonia was a rare disease contracted by only one or two people in three million.

The bacterium that caused it was in the community. The bacterial infection destroyed lung tissue, Cullis said.

"People usually get if after they've had flu," he was quoted as saying in the Witness.

Serfontein said her daughter's lungs were badly damaged and that she needed numerous transfusions of blood and platelets, sometimes seven units a day.

Cullis said the disease had a high mortality rate - most people who contracted the infection would die.

"Carla was given every conceivable treatment. She was simply too sick to recover," he said.

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(Sapa, September 2012)

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Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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