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December 22nd, 2008
09:58 AM ET

Robbed by rare virus, boy gets his voice back

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/HEALTH/12/22/hm.voice.box/art.finley.cnn.jpg caption="Joey Finley, 8, suffers from a rare condition that can prevent people from speaking normally."]
Singing "Frosty the Snowman" and "Jingle Bells" may not seem like a big deal to most third-graders, but for Joey Finley, 8, doctors say it's a miracle.
The blond, freckle-faced boy was unable to speak in a normal voice until about a year ago.

"I thought I would sound bad," he said.

Joey suffers from a rare virus that can get into the cells of the voice box.

"He has a condition called recurrent papillomatosis," explained Dr. Steven Sobol, director of pediatric otolaryngology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. "It causes growths like warts that you would see in other parts of the body."

Sobol said lesions in RRP (for the condition's full name, recurrent respiratory papillomatosis) are caused by the human papilloma virus, or HPV, the same condition that causes cervical cancer.

An estimated 20,000 children and adults in the United States suffer from the disease.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Medical News
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