Meningitis bacteria caused the mysterious of death of high school student Madison Small. On Friday, Ashburn public health officials confirmed Madison died of the highly contagious disease meningococcal meningitis, an infection of the tissues caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses.
Madison Small was a student at Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Virginia. Fox News reported how 18-year-old Madison took ill after returning from spring break.
Madison appeared to be in perfect health Monday morning when she returned to school. However, by Monday afternoon, classmates and friends said Madison came down with what they described as strong headaches — a common symptom of meningitis.
Long-time friend and classmate since preschool, 18-year-old Devan Rook, briefly explained to the Washington Post the dreadful chain of events Madison went through on Monday afternoon.
“She went to urgent care in the afternoon, and they sent her home — didn’t think anything was wrong with her. In the middle of the night, she woke up complaining of headaches and stuff, and they took her to Loudoun Hospital and realized it was pretty serious. They couldn’t handle it there, so they medevaced her over to Inova Fairfax Hospital. At that point, she wasn’t doing too well, and several of her organs were shutting down.”
There’s no record of Madison being in direct contact with classmates during her weeklong vacation.
Director of the Loudoun County Health Department, Dr. David Goodfriend, released the following statement about Madison Small’s meningitis case.
“Our thoughts are with the family during this very difficult time. The Health Department is evaluating all of the reports that we received to identify whether anyone is at an increased risk of infection.”
In addition, Dr. Goodfriend suggests ways to help prevent getting meningitis.
“The most effective way to protect you and your child against certain types of bacterial meningitis is to complete the recommended vaccine schedule. In addition to vaccination, the best way to prevent the spread of meningococcal meningitis is to not share personal items and to wash hands frequently, especially before eating.”
Madison Small was the senior team captain of the high school’s softball team. Madison’s classmates, friends, and family held a vigil for her at the softball field and area where she played infield. They offered their description of Madison to Fox News, which included her being a helpful classmate, great friend, and loyal teammate.
Fox 5 posted a comment made by one of Madison’s teammates.
“She also was funny and sassy. If we had our head down, she would come over and pick us up.”
Madison’s father provided a brief comment at the vigil.
He told the gathering, “Life can be short. Make the most of it. Love each other.”
Though it’s unclear how Madison Small became infected with meningococcal meningitis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a few symptoms of this highly contagious disease, including headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and sensitivity to light.
According to Dr. Goodfriend, there’s no evidence that meningitis is spreading in the local community.
[Photo via Facebook]