girl with parent

From Parade Magazine, October 7, 2012 article by Seth Mnookin
When Brendalee Flint got a call at work on Monday, Jan. 21, 2008, telling her that her 15-month-old daughter, Julieanna, was running a fever, she took the news in stride. But just to be safe, the mom of four later called her pediatrician, who assured her there was probably nothing to worry about. “That night, I gave her some medicine and put her to bed,” she says.

But over the next couple of days, Julieanna’s condition worsened: She would go from hysterically crying to suddenly appearing limp, and she had powerful bouts of diarrhea. So on Thursday, Flint drove her daughter from their Minnesota home to a hospital about 20 miles away. At first, doctors there suspected Julieanna had the flu, but by Friday, her pediatrician was sufficiently concerned that she scheduled more tests, including a CAT scan and a lumbar puncture, which showed that Julieanna had bacterial meningitis, a potentially deadly infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

Flint was surprised by the diagnosis. “I’d never even thought of meningitis,” she says. “It didn’t seem like something I had to worry about.” After all, since the availability of an infant vaccine in 1987, Hib meningitis cases in small children had nearly disappeared (before then, nearly 15,000 kids under age 5 contracted Hib meningitis every year, and more than 600 of them died). Brendalee had been vigilant about Julieanna receiving all her shots, including the one for Hib. What had gone wrong?