Tyler Johnson celebrates Christmas in a family photo from 2007. Doctors in Steamboat Springs and Denver have been unable to diagnose the illness that caused Tyler to be airlifted to Denver last week.
Steamboat Springs Medical staff at The Children's Hospital in Denver met Monday morning to discuss Tyler Johnson's case, but his mother said they still haven't diagnosed the 10-year-old Steamboat Springs boy.
Shara Johnson, Tyler's mother, said her son is making progress. Hospital staff removed his feeding tube Monday, and he was able to eat a little food on his own.
Tyler was airlifted from Yampa Valley Medical Center last week after doctors were unable to determine the cause of his condition. Tyler had a temperature of 103.7 degrees and had been vomiting since the early morning of June 23. Johnson said a rash developed on Tyler's feet the following day, indicating blood infection and prompting the decision to send him to The Children's Hospital.
Medical staff at The Children's Hospital told Johnson last week that Tyler will have to have at least 4 inches of his feet and all five fingers of his right hand amputated as early as this week.
Doctors also told Johnson the disease commonly associated with the symptoms experienced by Tyler is a form of meningitis called meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection in the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
Doctors referred Johnson to a Web site, FightMeningitis.com, for information about the disease. The Web site states that about 3,000 people in the U.S. become infected with the bacteria each year; approximately 1 in 10 die. Severe swelling in the brain and spinal cord and sepsis, or blood poisoning, can lead to limb amputation, severe scarring, brain damage and more. Early symptoms can be similar to the flu and include vomiting, fever and drowsiness.
Even if doctors diagnose Tyler with meningococcal disease - all tests have come back negative - it could be difficult to determine how and when he came into contact with the bacteria.
According to FightMeningitis.com, a person can contract the disease "by having close personal contact with a person who is sick with the disease. Contact with a healthy carrier - someone who carries the bacteria in their nose or throat but does not become sick - also can cause infection."
The week before Tyler first started showing symptoms, he participated in activities with the city of Steamboat Springs' summer camp.
Chris Wilson, director of the Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department, said the department is monitoring the situation, but he believes the summer camp is absolutely safe for children. He said he is in contact with a local doctor, the Johnson family and the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.
Wilson said activities at the state-licensed summer camp will continue as usual this week. He said the department has a procedure in place to notify parents in the event of illnesses, but he has no cause for such a notification at this time.
Parents with questions about the disease or safeguarding their children can call the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association at 879-1632.
Donations to a fund to assist Tyler Johnson with medical bills related to his treatment and care can be dropped off at Vectra Bank, 2155 Resort Drive in Steamboat Springs.