Family Rallies Around Toddler Who Fell Dangerously Ill Following Disney World Trip

Credit: ABC/Jackson Family

A family from Ohio has been rallying around their toddler, who fell dangerously ill upon returning home from a vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort, and his family is encouraging others to pay attention to their kids’ symptoms and follow their instincts.

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The Jackson family lives 35 miles north of Cincinnati, Ohio, in a town called Middleton, and the last several weeks have been extremely challenging and emotional for them. Their two-year-old son, Wilder, fell ill upon the family’s return from seeing Mickey and the gang, running fevers and ultimately testing positive for flu. His infection seemed to run its course, and soon, he recovered.

Or so his parents believed.

PHOTO: Wilder Jackson, 2, sleeps at Dayton Children's Hospital as he recovers from three viruses in Dayton, Ohio, Oct. 2022.

Credit: ABC/Jackson family

But Wilder began to develop fevers again. His mom and dad administered Motrin and Tylenol to help him feel better. The fevers would subside, only to return again, and this routine went on for nearly six weeks. On Friday evening, Wilder’s fever ran as high as 103, and at that point, his parents raced him to the emergency room at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center, where doctors told his mother, Ciara, “It’s just a virus.”

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“They took his temperature twice and then sent us home because his fever had broken,” Ciara explained, “because we had given him Tylenol.”

Ciara says she and her husband took Wilder home, but two days later, the child’s fevers had not subsided. Instead, Wilder’s fevers reached an all-time high at 105 degrees–a fever so high that he began to hallucinate.

“He started actually hallucinating,” Ciara said. “Thinking he was outside. We were inside on the couch, and he was saying, ‘I want to go inside. I need to get away from the dinosaur. He would look at like spots on the ceiling and just start freaking out and crying, and he was shaking. It was kind of like the parental instinct: we need to go in.”

PHOTO: Wilder Jackson, 2, lies on a couch at Dayton Children's Hospital as he recovers from three viruses in Dayton, Ohio, Oct. 2022.

Credit: ABC/Jackson family

Wilder’s parents took him to Dayton Children’s Hospital. There, even the physicians couldn’t understand why the two-year-old continued to run fevers with no other symptoms.

Doctors ordered multiple tests to be conducted in an effort to discover the underlying cause of Wilder’s mystery fevers. And when results from those tests came back, the news was staggering: a clinician at the previous hospital was partially right when he told Wilder’s mom that the child had a virus. But as test results would show, Wilder had not only one, but three viruses: rhinovirus, enterovirus, and adenovirus.

PHOTO TOUR: Dayton Children's Hospital Patient Tower, Dayton, Ohio - HCD  Magazine

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Rhinovirus is the virus that causes the common cold, enterovirus is a virus that can be found in the gastrointestinal tract (but can spread to the central nervous system), and adenovirus is any one of a group of viruses known to cause respiratory infections like croup, bronchitis, and pneumonia.

These viruses are common in children and usually cause mild illness, but when they occur concurrently, they can be much more severe.

“They think adenovirus was the virus that was wreaking havoc in him,” Ciara said.

Wilder was transferred from Dayton Children’s Hospital’s ER campus to the main medical center in downtown Dayton, Ohio. The timing couldn’t have been better, as Wilder received the last open bed in the hospital.

“I asked, ‘Can we switch out the crib for a bed?’ And they said, ‘We are out of beds. Like you took the last one.’ We felt very fortunate that we got in,” Ciara said.

PHOTO: Wilder Jackson, 2, plays with toys at Dayton Children's Hospital as he recovers from three viruses in Dayton, Ohio, Oct. 2022.

Credit: ABC/Jackson family

The toddler received medical care in the hospital for 3 to 4 days before being released. He was finally fever-free for 24 hours without the help of Motrin or Tylenol.

It’s not known whether Wilder contracted any of the viruses during the family’s trip to Disney World, though it is definitely a possibility.

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The family is speaking out following the ordeal, encouraging other parents to follow their instincts when it comes to their children’s health and well-being. Wilder’s mom also touts the importance of frequent hand-washing.

“Hand washing is a big thing,” Ciara said. “And then I would say to just trust your gut and make sure you’re your child’s advocate and just push for answers.”

“Follow your gut,” said Wilder’s dad. “You know your kid.”

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!