Madison Small And The Threat Of Bacterial Meningitis

Eighteen-year old high school student Madison Small of Ashburn, Virginia is dead after a swift and unexpected bacterial infection, reported ABC News. Small, an accomplished softball player, complained of a headache on the evening of Monday, Apr. 6 and was taken to the hospital, according to local news station WJLA in the video above. She died the next morning.

On April 13, health investigators announced that she had died of bacterial meningitis, but said that her case was not part of a wider outbreak in the community.

Bacterial meningitis is rare but severe. The infection, which can be caused by several different strains of bacteria, produces inflammation in the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include nausea, fever, stiff neck and a headache — which is what Small complained of — as well as confusion and an increased sensitivity to light. Later symptoms of untreated meningitis include seizures and coma. Among the most serious complications are stroke, permanent brain damage and paralysis.

The infection is treated with antibiotics, which can reduce risk of death to below 15 percent. However, babies and the elderly are still at higher risk for death.

The bacteria that cause bacterial meningitis are found naturally in the environment and sometimes even on the body. Most of the time, they don’t cause any harm, but if your immune system becomes compromised or you’ve recently had another infection or a head injury, the harmful bacteria can find its way into your bloodstream and cause membrane inflammation. The people who are most at risk of contracting the infection are babies, toddlers, and adults who abuse alcohol. Adults with, as mentioned above, other infections — most notably nose and ear infections — or head injuries are also prone to infection. Some forms of —> Read More