I'm paralyzed with fear imagining what British mom Terri Lewsley went through when her 8-month-old son Taylor Marshall contracted meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia, a life-threatening bacterial brain infection and blood poisoning. According to PopSugar, Terri was told her baby had only hours to live. "It all happened within the space of a day," she said.
In one day, Taylor went from being a normal child to being placed in a medical coma, as his limbs turned black with gangrene. His family thought he was going to die, but incredibly, Taylor survived. Still, meningitis took his left leg, all of his fingers, and the toes on his right foot.
He is one of the lucky ones, as bacterial meningitis can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.
The most common bacteria that cause the illness in newborns are Group B Streptococcus (GBS) and Escherichia coli. Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) and Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) are the most common causes of meningitis in children older than 2 months of age.
Ultimately, the bacteria will cause swelling of the membranes around the brain and spine, but it starts as a fever, with flu-like symptoms, which could indicate almost any childhood illness. You'll want to look for a stiff neck, a bleeding skin rash, chills, joint and muscle pain, vomiting, sensitivity to light, cramps, low energy, and fatigue. Newborns will appear sluggish and may not want to be picked up or fed.
Viral meningitis is not as serious. Most cases of the illness can be prevented through vaccination.
If you suspect your child may have meningitis, do not wait to seek medical attention! This is a very scary illness, as Terri Lewsley would attest.
Now 20 months old, her incredibly brave little boy is learning to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg, and Lewsley says he's back to being a normal toddler. "It's not changed his personality. Since his recovery and being back home, he's gone back to himself," she said. "He plays and laughs. He's a really happy little boy."
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.