A tweet sent by a Georgetown University nursing student eerily foreshadowed her death on Tuesday. “This is what dying must feel like,” Andrea Jaime tweeted while succumbing to symptoms of what appears to be a case of deadly meningitis.
Jaime had been undergoing treatment for the infectious disease at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, and although there haven’t been any other reported cases, the school is urging students to remain hyperaware of their hygiene. Thousands of students at other universities who have experienced outbreaks have been vaccinated in efforts to contain the spread, but currently no one knows how the 20-year-old sophomore nursing student from Coral Gables, Fla., contracted the disease to begin with.
“Andrea died from apparent meningitis,” Todd A. Olson, the university’s vice president for student affairs, wrote in an email Tuesday afternoon to the campus community. “We are awaiting test results to confirm the exact cause (of death). As we shared in a message to the community earlier today, proper medical precautions have been taken and members of the campus community do not need to take additional action at this time.”
Meningitis involves inflammation of a membrane, called the meninges, that covers the brain and spinal. The inflammation is usually caused by an infection that leaks in to and contaminates the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Jaime also commented on her Twitter feed Friday that she had a 105-degree fever, adding, “I think I’m dying.” The ominously accurate prediction resonates with many university students who became friends with Jaime, who was set to graduate in 2017 from the Nursing and Health Studies School.
Approximately 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis are reported annually in the United States, but only about 500 actually wind up dying from the disease. There are five different strands of meningitis – bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic, and non-infectious.
The most common and severe of all is bacterial meningitis, which can be spread through kissing, or via other forms of transfer involving secretions from the throat. Infectious diseases such as meningitis spread faster when larger groups of people gather together, making on-campus living dormitories the perfect storm.
Meningitis symptoms often mimic flu, making it easy to mistake one illness for another. Early symptoms of meningitis can develop in just a few hours, or make take up to two days after contracting the disease. Sufferers can feel fine one moment and suddenly come down with a high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, vomiting or nausea, confusion and difficulty concentrating, sensitivity to light, and sleepiness or difficulty waking up. In later stages a person may experience seizures, lose interest in drinking or eating, and develop skin rashes, according to Mayo Clinic.
Many people brush off early flu-like symptoms, but if you live in close quarters with others, as is the case with students, it is of highest importance to check with a health professional or clinic for testing and treatment.
Source: Medical Daily, http://bit.ly/YVzHza
Image: Meningococcus bacterium