Flu Diagnosis Turns Out to be Rare Childhood Illness

A North Texas mother is sharing the story of her daughter's battle with influenza that left her in the intensive care unit fighting more than the flu.

On her first day back at class, 4-year-old Tinsley Vinet still remembers her three-day stint in the ICU.

The precocious preschooler came down with the flu over the holidays. After three days of Tamiflu, her family felt she was well enough to make a road trip to see relatives in Tennessee.

"It [temperature] was down to about 99, so we felt like she was probably on the tail-end of the flu, because my son's flu had only lasted three days," said Tinsley's mother, Terra Vinet.

Outside of Little Rock, Tinsley 's fever spiked and she became unresponsive. She was taken by helicopter to a Memphis Children's Hospital where she was diagnosed with Kawasaki syndrome.

Kawasaki syndrome is a rare illness that affects between nine and 19 out of 100,000 U.S. children under the age of five, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms include fever, rash, swelling, eye irritation, swollen glands and inflammation around the mouth, lips and throat.

Tinsley's mother documented her experience in pictures so she could see how sick she got and how fortunate she is to be alive.

"It's really change my perspective, because now if my child seems sick, I am going to immediately keep my child home from school," said Vinet.

Tinsley's mother said the experience has also made her quicker to take her children to see a doctor, even if it doesn't seem like they're particularly ill.

Doctors don't know what causes Kawasaki syndrome, but do know the syndrome is not contagious. A report from Cedar-Sinai hospital indicates it may be an abnormal reaction to another illness like the flu. Other medical researchers believe it may be caused by a virus because it can show up in certain communities.

Contact Us