A Cedar Rapids mother is urging parents of college-aged children to make sure they get the meningitis vaccine. Kathy Huddleson says one day last September, her 20-year-old daughter Elizabeth was home visiting her boyfriend when she suddenly became ill. Her flu-like symptoms became so severe she was taken to a hospital. She was nauseated, had a headache, ached all over and had some numbness and tingling in her arms and legs — mostly symptoms that mimic flu, as Huddleson says meningitis often does. Huddleson says her doctors sent her daughter home with medicine to control flu symptoms but less than 24 hours she was back, as her parents rushed to the hospital. By the time they got there doctors were working to revive the girl and keep her going, but within an hour of arriving at the hospital she was pronounced dead. Huddleson says a simple vaccination at the doctor’s office can prevent a tragedy like her family has endured. You can get the shot at colleges, and many campus health centers will administer the vaccination. Meningitis strikes nearly 3,000 Americans each year. Doctors say one of four young adults who get meningitis will die from it, even though 80-percent of cases among adolescents and young adults are vaccine-preventable. Certain lifestyle factors including living in dorms, irregular sleep patterns and sharing of beverages or utensils tend to make college students more susceptible to the disease.
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