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House episode
"Cursed"
House-Cursed.jpg
Episode no. HOU-113
Airdate March 1, 2005
Writer(s) Matt Witten
Peter Blake
Director(s) Daniel Sackheim
Final diagnosis Anthrax and leprosy
Episode chronology
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"Sports Medicine" "Control"

"Cursed" is the thirteenth episode of the first season of House, which premiered on the FOX network on March 1, 2005. After consulting a Ouija board on his life, a young boy thinks that he is going to die.

Plot

Twelve-year-old Gabe Reillich (Daryl Sabara) is taken to the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital after he collapses with a rash on his arm and a developing pneumonia. Foreman suggests the presence of chlamydia, while Chase believes it is caused by tick bites. While the team collects fluid from the rash, Gabe's father Jeffrey (Nestor Carbonell), a notable donor to the hospital, bickers with his separated wife, Sarah (Tracy Middendorf). Chase takes Gabe aside to ease the tension, and asks if he went to anywhere in particular. Gabe states a week ago after school, he went to a secret clubhouse meeting in an attic of an abandoned house and slipped on something, developing the rash. As Chase prepares to leave to investigate, his estranged father, rheumatologist Rowan Chase (Patrick Bauchau), comes in and hopes to speak with him. Chase immediately brushes him off, sparking interest from House.

Chase returns with the sample from the attic and upon examination, the team is bewildered to discover Gabe is infected with anthrax. He is quickly put on Levaquin but immediately develops an allergic reaction and goes into arrest. Rowan suggests sarcoidosis, but Chase is still determined that it is anthrax. The rest of the team sides with Rowan, until necrosis presents itself in Gabe, indicating anthrax. House believes they're both right, and deduces anthrax triggered a dormant sarcoidosis. Gabe is treated with antibiotics for the anthrax and methotrexate for the sarcoidosis, but skin lesions begin spreading throughout his body.

The team now diagnoses an autoimmune disease, although Chase states this is suggested because Rowan is a rheumatologist. To prove his father wrong, he runs various autoimmune tests. As he argues with Rowan that it cannot be autoimmune, he questions his father's presence at the hospital. Rowan aptly replies he is here to see his son, but Chase thinks otherwise, knowing that Rowan abandoned him and his alcoholic mother years ago. He shows the tests to House, who sides with Rowan's theory of autoimmune. At the same time, House asks if Chase knows the reason why Rowan is here, which Chase believes is a conference. House confronts Rowan, noting his macrobiotic diet and neck tattoo for guiding radiation treatment, suggesting cancer. Rowan confirms stage 4 lung cancer, and tells House it is none of his business, knowing that he will eventually inform Chase, due to his curious nature. House takes notice and does not reveal this to Chase.

When Gabe's right hand and forearm are paralyzed, with a returning high fever, the team and Rowan diagnose neurofibromatosis, but scans show no signs of it. House recalls Jeffrey suggesting leishmaniasis and filariasis, which are exclusive to Southeast Asia and confronts him, asking if he has ever been there. Jeffrey confesses he spent two years in India, where he lost all his money after joining an ashram and was too ashamed to tell anyone. House immediately diagnoses Gabe with leprosy, which he deduces Jeffrey also has, evidenced by damage to his ulnar nerve which was misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome. House states when the Levaquin staved off the leprosy, Gabe's body produced antibodies to finish off the dying bacteria. These antibodies then attacked the neural and fat cells, leading to the rest of his symptoms. Both father and son are treated for leprosy.

As Chase checks in with Gabe, who is angry his father lied to him, he assures the teenager that fathers always love their children, even when things seem bad. When Gabe answers that he does not love his father, Chase replies, "Yeah, you do. There's nothing you can do about it. He's your dad. It doesn't matter what he does; you're going to love him." Heeding his own words, Chase heads to Rowan's hotel to catch him before he leaves for the airport, hoping for a drink to catch up, but Rowan must return to Australia. Chase promises to visit him in the next year, and hugs his father.

Medical inconsistencies

Leishmaniasis and filariasis are not diseases exclusive to Asia; they are found in other areas of the world as well, mostly in tropical countries of the Developing World. But more than 90 percent of the world's cases of visceral leishmaniasis are in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sudan, and Brazil. And filariasis is also endemic in tropical regions of Asia, Africa, Central and South America, respectively.

Levaquin (aka. Levofloxacin) was not licensed for treatment of anthrax in the pediatric population until 2008. Ciprofloxacin should have been the fluoroquinolone of choice at the time the episode was aired.

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