Skip to content

Delays in diagnosing strep throat nearly kills B.C. child

Clark's daughter is now on intravenous antibiotics and is on the road to recovery.
Jacinda Clark's daughter sick at KGH with streptococcal meningitis.

A Kelowna mother is shaken after her daughter's near death experience with strep throat.

Jacinda Clark says three weeks ago her daughter developed an intense sore throat, so they visited their family doctor, who took test cultures for strep throat and sent Clark and her daughter home awaiting the results.

Four days later, her daughter's symptoms grew worse so Clark took the six-year-old to the Kelowna Urgent Primary Care Centre.

"It was Saturday and I hadn't heard from my doctor. She was getting worse. She couldn't even lift her head."

While waiting at the urgent care centre, Clark says their family doctor called to say the strep throat test had come back positive. A doctor at the urgent care centre then issued antibiotics and sent them home.

After giving her daughter the antibiotics, Clark says her daughter continued to decline, so they went to the emergency department at KGH later that day.

"I felt like she was dying. She couldn't move her head from side to side. She couldn't handle even talking... the sound of our voices," Clark described.

"I was like 'this is not normal.' She had the worst headache of her life. I was like 'it's her brain.' So I went into emergency and they just sent me home. They said it was just a headache from strep throat."

"When the child can't lift their head, that is probably not just strep throat," Clark said.

The next day, Clark's daughter had her sixth round of antibiotics for strep, but was still getting worse. So Clark took her daughter back to KGH's emergency department for a second time.

"Finally they asked a pediatrician to come check on her and the pediatrician was like no 'this is not OK.' They admitted her immediately and put her on every kind of antibiotics that they had."

"She was on three antibiotics, and the medication for the swelling in her brain. Then they tested her blood and it was in her blood, then they did a spinal and it was in her spine, which means it was in her brain."

Clark's daughter was diagnosed with streptococcal meningitis, an acute inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord caused by streptococcal bacteria.

Clark's daughter is now on intravenous antibiotics and is on the road to recovery.

"If you have strep and you wait days to grow a culture, the strep is going to spread into different parts," Clark said, explaining her daughter's brush with death could have been avoided had a rapid test been used.

Clark tells Castanet she is sharing her story in hopes she can help educate other parents.

"You know your child best. If you think something is wrong, keep going back and advocate for them. I didn't know you can ask to see a pediatrician, you can ask for blood work. If you think something is wrong keep going back."

In November, a West Kelowna child died after a strep diagnosis was misdiagnosed as simple influenza.

Clark says the story of nine-year-old Ayla Loseth was in the back of her mind while dealing with her own child's sickness.

"That little girl was in my brain. She saved my daughter's life. I would like to thank the family for bringing awareness to what happened, because if it wasn't for their situation I wouldn't have kept going back to get treatment."

Interior Health says they are unable comment on the case due to patient privacy.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks