TEEN HEALTH Published April16, 2015 By Staff Writer

Teen Complains of Not Feeling Well, Dies in Less Than 24 Hours

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Patients Being Forced To Wait In Ambulances Outside A&E
(Photo : Bethany Clarke | Getty Images News)

The quick death of a vibrant teen in Virginia has left her family, friends, and the rest of the community baffled. But the health department has the answer.

Madison Small was a popular, happy 18-year-old teen who was living a full life, being the captain of their softball team of Broad Run High School. She was also in the pink of health until Monday morning, April 6, when she started complaining about not feeling well.

By Monday evening, she was brought to the hospital where she died Tuesday morning, April 7, when she suffered from multiple organ failure. Apart from grieving, her loved ones were left clueless as to what caused her untimely death.

This week, the Loudon County Health Department shared their findings: she had meningococcal meningitis caused by the bacteria known as Neisseria meningitidis. Like most bacteria, a person can be infected with the meningitis bacteria if he or she comes in contact with the carrier's bodily fluid such as spit. It may also spread through physical contact including kissing and using a property that belongs to the infected person.

It takes at least 2 days after the infection before the symptoms start to appear. These include vomiting, headache, nausea, fever, stiffness, and light sensitivity. Once the bacterium invades the body, it starts to penetrate the tissues covering the brain and the spinal cord, causing inflammation. Although meningitis is treatable even with antibiotics, it needs to be caught early and, like in Small's case, demands for an immediate attention.

It's still unclear how Small acquired the bacteria, and the health department is closely monitoring the people she may have been with. Nevertheless, they want to assure the public that there's no outbreak of the bacteria and that other students in the school are not at risk, even if the administration has taken the necessary measures such as disinfecting the lockers more than once. 

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