Mystery virus of toddler who never woke from afternoon nap

Elliot Kerslake
Elliot Kerslake
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A TODDLER went for his routine afternoon nap and never woke up after being struck down by a mysterious brain condition, an inquest heard.

Fit and healthy Elliot Kerslake is thought to have suffered a seizure brought on by an unexplained virus.

Elliot Kerslake with his family

Elliot Kerslake with his family

Just hours previously the toddler, who the coroner said lived his life at “100 miles per hour”, had been performing a dance routine for his sister’s friends and cheering on his big brother Oliver, 12, at a football match.

Parents John and Andrea Kerslake broke down as the inquest into his heartbreaking sudden death on March 3, 2013, heard their written evidence.

Mrs Kerslake, 45, said exuberant Elliot had been put down for his nap at 2pm.

The devastated mother said in a statement read out by the coroner: “I read him a Fireman Sam story as I put him down for an afternoon nap at 2pm just after his lunch.

“I told him I loved him and closed the curtains.”

Three hours after being put down for his nap their daughter Emily, now 14, screamed. The panicked parents rushed to call an ambulance as they discovered the two-year-old lying “blue and floppy”.

Mr Kerslake said in a statement: “I took him into the garden so we would be ready for the ambulance and the operator instructed me to carry out CPR. I continued fighting for him shouting ‘come on Elliot, you can do it’, although I started to feel in my mind that he was gone.”

The parents went with Elliot in the ambulance to Leeds General Infirmary, where he was pronounced dead.

Just hours earlier, Leeds Coroners Court heard how the energetic little boy had been playing in the garden and entertaining his sister’s friends, who had stayed the night before for her birthday sleepover, by “doing a little dance” at their home in Shadwell, Leeds.

In her statement, Mrs Kerslake said: “I had to wipe his runny nose quite a bit that day, but didn’t think much of it. My husband met us at the football field at lunchtime and I remember Elliot shouting ‘that’s my daddy’ and ran over to him to give him a cuddle.”

Dr Richard Newton, specialist in child neurology at Manchester Royal Infirmary, said the cause of Elliot’s death was most likely encephalitis - inflammation of the brain - caused by a virus which triggered a seizure as the tot slept.

Dr Newton said: “This was a well little boy with a cold, essentially. He went down in the afternoon for a nap which is a routine almost every family in Britain bears witness to.

“I would suggest the cause of Elliot’s death to be a seizure during his nap related to encephalitis, caused by an indeterminable virus.

“There are thousands, if not millions of types of virus and it would be impossible to determine which kind.”

Recording a conclusion of natural causes, Coroner David Hinchliff said the cause of death was, on the balance of probabilities, “inflammation of the brain caused by an indeterminable viral infection”.

Speaking before the hearing, Mr Kerslake said: “Elliot loved life, he relished every new experience. He gave so much love to us, his brother and sister and all that knew him.”