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Local meningitis survivor speaks out during Meningitis Awareness Week

A local meningitis patient is speaking out, warning people of the illness and what can happen if you fall victim to it. This comes during Meningitis Awareness Week.

“When I woke up, everyone was telling me what happened,” said 21-year-old Quincy resident Abbey Elsie. “I was very confused, scared and in a lot of pain.”

It happened so fast, that’s how Elsie described what happened to her back in July.

“It went from me feeling fine at work the night before to not being able to pick objects up or speak at all,” said Elsie.

After spending three days in the ICU at Blessing Hospital, doctors informed Elsie she had contracted meningitis, which is inflammation of the brain and spinal cord membranes, typically caused by an infection. In Elsie’s case, doctors say she got meningitis from having mono.

Dr. Andrew Dunn with Blessing Physician Services says its common for all meningitis symptoms to come at once, as did Elsie’s.

“You can go from zero symptoms day one to near death the following day or 24 hours,” said Dr. Dunn. “It’s very serious and very deadly if you contract the bacterial form of meningitis.”

In fact, Elsie says if her mom hadn’t taken her to the ER when she did, doctors say she could have very well died in her sleep that night.

“I never would’ve thought that it could’ve been so serious so quickly,” said Elsie.

Even though doctors say there are fewer than 200,000 cases per year of meningitis in the United States, it’s still important to listen to your body and know potential symptoms.

“Unfortunately, some of the symptoms can be vague to start with; either body aches, chills, fever, stiff neck,” said Dr. Dunn. “The hallmark is extremely rapid onset of symptoms.”

However, if it’s treated fast enough patients are able to make a full recovery.

“Every once and while I’ll still get a headache,” said Elsie. “The neurologist says that those can kind of stick around a little bit afterwards but other than that, I feel completely fine. I feel great.”

Vaccines can prevent some forms of meningitis. Doctors recommend getting a vaccine at 11 or 12 with a booster around the age of 16.

Click here for more information about meningitis.

Kaylee Pfeiferling

Multimedia Journalist

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