Students and the community are mourning the death of 6-year-old Alexander Callendar. The Lizana Elementary School student died on a school bus Thursday afternoon, after complications from an abscessed tooth. An autopsy determined Callendar died from septic shock, after having two teeth pulled in two weeks.
"Septic shock is, basically, in layman's terms, an infection that spreads into the blood system, and when that infection is in the blood system, it starts shutting down some of the main organs in the body," said Dr. Lindberg Clark.
During his 15 years as a dentist at Biloxi's Coastal Family Health Center, Dr. Lindberg Clark has treated thousands of patients. One of the most common ailments is abscessed teeth. However, he says, it's rare for a patient to die from complications with an abscessed tooth.
"With children, it's difficult to know how quickly something will set in, and so it's so important to do the best we can on the front end," said Dr. Persharon Dixon, who also works at the Coastal Family Health Center.
Dr. Dixon, a pediatrician, says infection anywhere in the face or head should be taken seriously, especially when children are involved.
"Infection anywhere in the face area, or the teeth, we're concerned about that progressing into the sinuses or causing a brain abscess, and it's hard to know how quickly that will take affect," Dr. Persharon said.
While Callendar's case is a rare one, Dr. Clark says there are some symptoms of septic shock parents can keep an eye out for.
"Usually, in septic shock, the patient may complain of fever, fatigue, malaise, nausea and vomiting, just basically not feeling that well," Dr. Clark said.
Click here to learn more about the signs and symptoms of septic shock.