The authorities of Michigan reported that Kristy Malter, 21,  died of bacterial meningitis, and they are contacting anyone who was in contact with her during July. Official reports say there are around 200 people who might have had contact with the girl between July 1 and July 11 a day before she was hospitalized at a local medical facility. The list includes friends, family, co-workers and clients. So far, there are no other known cases in the area, but the officials want to rule out a possible infection.

The girl who died was identified as Kristy Malter. She was 21 years old, and she worked at Life Time Fitness. She had been dealing with the symptoms for some time, but last Tuesday, she was taken to a local hospital where her condition rapidly decayed to the point she needed machines to keep her alive. In the beginning, an official report was omitted, but after the disease was confirmed, the Macomb County Health Department made it official. The announcement was made on Saturday, and the people who had contact with Kristy during the month of July were urged to get in touch with the authorities.

Kristy Malter. Credit: Fox 2 Detroit

Bacterial meningitis is a very rare and dangerous disease. It contaminates the membrane that covers the brain and the spinal cord. Once this happens, the disease causes inflammation in the tissue. If untreated, the disease can be lethal, and even if the infected person recovers from it, permanent damage is frequent such as paralysis and strokes, among others.

The disease is not easily transmitted from one person to another

The disease is carried by different groups of bacteria including serogroups B, C, and Y, and they usually live in the human body without causing problems. In fact, it is estimated that around 20% of the people get the infection in their throats at least once during their lifetimes without knowing it. However, once it reaches the bloodstream, it travels to the brain where it starts doing real damage.

The disease lives in the saliva and the nasal fluids, and direct contact with one of these could result in a successful infection. Ten days after entering the body, the virus becomes active, and people will start presenting symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, confusion, sensitivity to light, fever, stiff necks and severe headaches, among others. Pregnant women, children and the elderly are more susceptible to the infection along with people that have weak immune systems.

The disease is rare, and the symptoms are very similar to those of a bad cold, so must cases are detected in an advanced state. According to the National Meningitis Association, around 600 – 1000 people contract meningococcal meningitis in the United States every year. More than 10% of those usually die, and one in five of the people who survive end up with permanent disabilities related to brain damage. Most of the reporter cases have been detected in in people younger than 24, in particular in the teen years.

A simple shot prevents two-thirds of the cases

Modern science has developed many countermeasures against meningitis, but the most common and effective ones are the shots. Immunization vaccines can protect people from almost every form of meningitis, but there is a little problem. Only 30% of the people who reported having the disease in the United States had gotten the shot in the past; the rest were completely unprotected.

It is unknown if Kristy had taken the shot in the past, but a follow-up booster is required to ensure full protection against the often deadly disease.

Source: CBS Local Detroit