A relative of an 11-year-old boy who died after injuring his ankle on a treadmill is speaking out to share a warning about his health condition.
Jesse Brown, a fifth grade student from Winter Park, Florida, was using a treadmill at a gym when he rolled his ankle, his cousin Megan Brown told “Good Morning America.”
The otherwise healthy 11-year-old was healing from the ankle injury when he developed a red and purple rash on his leg, according to Brown.
Jesse was rushed to the emergency room and then admitted to the intensive care unit, where tests confirmed he had invasive group A strep infection, according to Brown.
“The doctor said that he could have had a scratch on his ankle, from when he fell,” Brown told “GMA” in an interview that aired Feb. 19. “And maybe there was strep A at the gym and maybe that’s how he contracted it.”
Jesse died just a few days after he was hospitalized, according to Brown.
“Jesse was extremely outgoing and he was hilarious,” she said. “Everyone that was around him had the best things to say about him.”
After his death, the local school district that Jesse attended started a memorial fund to raise money for Jesse’s family.
“Jesse was kind and compassionate, looked out for others, adventurous, and truly an amazing friend and classmate,” the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools said in a statement. “He also knew how to make the most of fun times with friends outside and lived life to the fullest with his BMX and dirt bike racing.”
The statement continued, “Jesse worked hard and had a huge heart. He was one of our patrols that worked to keep the school safe, but also worked to make sure everyone started their day with a smile.”
What to know about risks of invasive group A strep
Jesse’s death due to an invasive group A strep (iGAS) comes as children’s hospitals and health agencies across the country are continuing to monitor a possible rise in cases.
After a lull in cases of invasive group A strep during the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals in states including Colorado, Texas and Arizona say they’re seeing more cases in children than are typical.
Two children in the Denver area have died from the infection, state health officials said in December.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said in December it is looking into reports of a possible increase in infections in the U.S.
“It’s possible that there may be increases in iGAS infections this year, as is being observed for other infectious diseases that spread person to person,” the CDC said in a statement.
Invasive group A strep is a dangerous but rare disease that leads to around 1,500 to 2,300 deaths in the United States annually, according to the CDC. The agency says between 14,000 and 25,000 cases usually occur each year.
The infections occur when strep A bacteria, which typically causes mild infections like a sore throat, spreads to other parts of the body like the bloodstream or spinal fluid. That can cause “flesh-eating” skin infections, pneumonia or toxic shock syndrome.
The condition is usually treated in the hospital with IV antibiotics.
Doctors tell ABC News that all cases of strep should be seen by a doctor, severe or not. Parents should be on the lookout for fever, sore throat, trouble swallowing, or kids not acting like themselves.
Parents should also keep an eye out for signs of toxic shock syndrome and “flesh-eating” skin infections, which can be a sign that a strep infection is invasive. Symptoms of toxic shock include fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting, according to the CDC.
Early signs of a serious skin infection include a fast-spreading swollen area of skin, severe pain and fever. Later on it might look like blisters, changes in skin color or pus at the infected area.
Because strep spreads through coughs and sneezes and surfaces, practicing good hygiene — like washing hands, surfaces and plates or glasses — can keep it from spreading.
Parents should also make sure children are up-to-date on flu and COVID-19 vaccinations in order to help protect them.