Since the day he was born, Solomon Harris has been full of surprises.
He entered the world weeks early by emergency C-section. When he was strong enough to go home, Solomon suddenly refused to eat and developed a high-pitched cry, prompting a trip to the emergency room.
There Solomon’s parents, Rebecca Skelton and Shepard Harris, learned their son had group B streptococcus, a life-threatening bacteria that is the leading cause of blood infection and meningitis, infection of the fluid and lining around the brain, in newborns.
Solomon spent 10 days in the hospital on intravenous antibiotics before his parents could take him home. But shortly after he returned home, he fell ill again. The group B strep was back.
“Stressful doesn’t even begin to describe the situation we were in,” says Shep. “And on top of that, here’s this cute, little, harmless boy with tubes coming in and out of him.”
Finding the best
Solomon’s doctors sent him to the specialists at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. “That was so comforting to us,” Rebecca says. “We were finally being seen by the group of doctors that was really the best with group B strep.”
Leading that group was Patricia Ferrieri, M.D., who had been researching the infection for 30 years. Ferrieri, a professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, is working with colleagues at the University of Minnesota and across the country to develop a vaccine to prevent group B strep.
“I find it invaluable to be able to transition from the lab to the patient and back to the lab,” she says. “I’m able to move more quickly and preemptively.”
A clearer picture
At first, Solomon wasn’t responding well to treatments. Then Ferrieri found out that besides having group B strep, Solomon had an enterovirus that was clouding the picture. A few months later, Solomon also was found to have probable congenital cytomegalovirus.
Because of Ferrieri’s care—and the care of other University pediatric specialists—Solomon is now developing normally. The three-year-old preschooler has a passion for sports, volcanoes, and dinosaurs.
“We think the world of Dr. Ferrieri,” Rebecca says. “She did so many wonderful things for Solomon and for our family.”