Cause of Virginia Teen's Sudden Death Determined

Madison Small died of neisseria sepsis
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2015 2:20 PM CDT
Cause of Virginia Teen's Sudden Death Determined
18-year-old Madison Small.   (Voice of America)

No solace, but an answer: The Virginia Medical Examiner's office has determined that 18-year-old Madison Small died of neisseria sepsis. The Washington Post reports that's a blood infection related to bacterial meningitis; the two are reportedly caused by the same bacteria. WUSA9 describes her death as a case of meningococcal meningitis. Small's father says the Broad Run High School senior was healthy on Sunday; she fell sick on Monday and was dead by the next morning. The Post reports Loudoun County school system's last verified case of bacterial meningitis was in January 2013. The head of the county's health department says the public is not in danger; the bacteria is spread through the direct exchange of saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus, as from kissing or sharing personal items like utensils or lip balm.

David Goodfriend adds that a limited number of people nearest to Small are under observation. Symptoms include fever, severe headaches, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting. There is no indication an outbreak is beginning, but Goodfriend warned against sharing personal items in general, reports WUSA9. A press release from the health department also advises that children complete the recommended vaccine schedule. A vaccine is available for the bacteria that causes meningococcal disease, but Goodfriend tells the Post it's only required for college-bound teens. As a precaution, the high school has cleaned the locker rooms twice; Small was a softball team captain who had planned to go to Virginia Tech. (Sharing a personal item left this woman paralyzed.)

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