Rehovot doctors save infant’s vision from virus

"The angels in white saved my baby," grateful mother says of Kaplan Medical Center doctors.

January 17, 2012 05:57
2 minute read.
Doctor examines eyes of 5-month-old (illustrative)

Infant medical procedure 311. (photo credit: Courtesy of Kaplan Medical Center)


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The sight in the right eye of a five-month-old infant has been saved by Kaplan Medical Center doctors after they surgically infused antibiotics directly into the socket.

The eye had been overwhelmed by an infection caused by a rare virus.

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The infant, from Ashdod, was rushed to the Rehovot hospital, where a new strain of an aggressive bacterium called Kingella kingae was diagnosed. Fortunately, the pathogen is so new that it is still not resistant to powerful antibiotics. His parents were so grateful that they changed the boy’s name from Hilai to Ilai.

The proteobacteria from the order of Neisseriales was first isolated in 1960, but until the 1990s culture techniques didn’t improve enough for it to become recognized as a significant cause of infection in young children.

It often causes infections in the covering of the heart, the ligaments and bones and sometimes in the lungs and brain, but it has very rarely affected the eyes.

It is part of the bacterial flora of the throat in young children and transmitted from one child to another.

Prof. Ayala Pollack, an ophthalmologist at Kaplan, said it was the first time they had seen a breakout of the virulent bacteria. When the antibiotic was given directly into the hollow of the eye and the pathogen was weakened and destroyed, the doctors knew that the baby’s sight in the affected eye had been saved.


He was taken four weeks ago to Kaplan with a high fever, nausea, vomiting and a very red eye. Pollack, who examined him, said the condition was very hard to diagnose.

Finally, the source of the infection was identified by a multidisciplinary team, who said that it had reached the eye from the circulating blood.

“It was very unusual. During a very short time it could have led to complete blindness, thus it was very important to take him to the operating room to neutralize the advance of the infection,” she said.

His mother, Pninit, was very grateful.

“We arrived at the hospital when the eye was red, with a white spot on the iris,” she said. “We didn’t know what the problem was, and it was very scary, but the angels in white saved my baby.”

After the operation succeeded, the hospital rabbi, Zamir Cohen, recommended his name be changed to the similarly sounding Ilai, in memory of the brilliant rabbinical scholar of the Talmud from the second century CE.

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