A Northern Arizona University student died Monday night after a battle with a rare type of meningitis that started with just a sore throat, according to a family member.
Lianne Dennstedt, a 19-year-old environmental science sophomore from California, had been undergoing treatment at Flagstaff Medical Center for more than two weeks.
Her grandfather, Stephen Dennstedt, had been writing about her illness on his personal blog. On Tuesday, he published a post announcing her death, along with a family statement.
“Last night, we experienced what no parent should have to endure. Our precious daughter, Lianne, lost her battle with a rare and aggressive bacterial infection that caused meningitis and other complications. Our family is devastated by the loss of our vibrant, loving Lianne, who had a tender soul and brought so much joy and laughter to the world.
“Lianne fought for her life during two weeks in intensive care, with a team of specialists doing everything they could. Despite every conceivable effort and prayer to keep her with us, Lianne passed away peacefully with her loving family by her side. While we cannot begin to describe the unimaginable sorrow of losing a child, we take comfort knowing Lianne is with the angels in Heaven now.
“She was the light of our lives, and we must now begin the long, painful journey to understand a life without her in it.”
Meningitis is a severe bacterial infection that occurs in the bloodstream or in the brain. Symptoms may not be very recognizable and can be easily confused with influenza symptoms.
Her family said Lianne Dennstedt started to feel sick Aug. 26 but thought it would pass. Meanwhile, the infection that started in her throat went on to infect her blood and brain, eventually causing pneumonia and other complications.
While anyone who came in contact with Dennstedt would not have to worry about infection, according to NAU health officials, the university has been spreading the word about the risks and encouraging students, particularly those living in on-campus housing, to get immunized.
Young people living in close quarters are most susceptible to meningitis.
A crowdfunding page has been set up for the family at YouCaring.com.
Dennstedt is survived by her parents, Brenda and Shawn, and her sister, Jaimee.
“Lianne’s family requests their privacy is respected as they cope with their loss,” Stephen Dennstedt said on his blog.
Arizona requires a meningitis vaccine for 11- and 12-year-olds, but a follow-up booster shot is not mandated.
The National Meningitis Association recommends a vaccination to address several trains of meningitis for children of that age, with a booster shot at 16 years old. They also recommend a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine between 16 and 23 years old.
Meningitis is treated with antibiotic therapy. However, even when diagnosed early and given therapy, 5 to 10 percent of cases are fatal, according to an April report by Dr. Brett Hurliman at Phoenix Children’s Hospital that is posted on the Arizona Department of Health Services website.
According to the report, college freshman, especially those living in residence halls, are at a higher risk.
Read or Share this story: http://azc.cc/2ycfkPD