When Abbigayle Dipietro started feeling ill over the weekend, her parents thought it was just an earache.
As WSBT reports, the 10-year-old girl from Middlebury, Indiana began feeling ill over the weekend of February 2. As far as anyone knew, it was nothing particularly serious. But then Abby’s condition deteriorated with astonishing speed. Her mother, Tasha Diepietro-Anderson, told WSBT:
“It was fine Sunday and then Monday she started vomiting all day and at about 6 o’clock Monday she went into a seizure.”
The girl’s parents took her to the hospital, where the fourth-grader was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, a disease that Tasha had never heard of before.
“They had to explain to us what it was because, I didn’t, we didn’t know what it was,” she told WSBT.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), bacterial meningitis is responsible for about 4,100 cases and 500 deaths a year in the United States. It can be caused by several different types of bacteria and can affect people at any age.
Most often, the bacteria that cause meningitis are spread through human contact, though there are strains that can be passed on through eating contaminated food. Pregnant women can also pass meningitis bacteria to babies during labor and birth.
The most effective way to prevent meningitis is by getting vaccinated. There are vaccines for three kinds of bacteria that cause the disease. However, the vaccines are not 100 percent effective, and there are strains of bacteria that cause meningitis, but are not covered by vaccines.
The earliest symptoms of meningitis are the sudden onset of a headache, fever, and stiff neck. These may be followed by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and confusion. Meningitis can be deadly, and the disease moves very quickly. If you believe there is a chance you may have meningitis, see a doctor immediately.
For Abby’s family, it was heartbreaking to see how quickly the disease progressed. Diagnosed on Monday, Abby lapsed into a coma on Wednesday and died later that day.
Her father told WSBT they’re still trying to come to terms with the loss:
“It’s been hard on everybody in the family. It’s just hard to lose a child at the age of 10.”
Tasha says that Abby’s condition was very rare, and not contagious. She told WSBT that she hopes other parents learn from their story and educate themselves about the symptoms of meningitis:
“If there is any of those symptoms, whether you think it’s just a migraine or flu, push to have as much blood work and testing done as you can. If we would have known what it could have led to, would have probably tried to do more.”
A Facebook fundraiser has been set up for Abby’s family. The money raised will go to Abby’s medical expenses and memorial service. Tasha said she’s touched that people have given so much to help them:
“It’s helping cover everything, all the medical costs, funeral in general and everything like that. I’m really surprised. Glad they came out to help.”