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Meningitis, a serious condition that most often plagues teens and young adults, is frequently reported about in the news to raise awareness due to its highly contagious nature. Although the infection can ultimately lead to death, there are many other long-term consequences for patients who survive.
A recent thread on the social news site Reddit showed us one of them -- gangrene.
If the infection of the meninges, the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord, spread to the blood stream, it can produce toxins that cause issue death and lead to gangrene. (Photo: Imgur)
The user who posted a photo of a gangrenous hand on the site yesterday wrote that he believes he contracted the infection from a friend visiting from Thailand who might have been carrying the bacteria. The transmission occurred from sharing drinks and cigarettes, the Redditor going by jamesmc3stripe wrote.
How did the infection get so bad that his blood became poisoned to the point of decaying the living tissue in his fingers? jamesmc3stripe wrote that he was misdiagnosed by physicians who thought initially he had acute food poisoning. He continued say he was "then told I had to be put to sleep" in an induced coma and 10 days later he awoke with gangrenous hands and feet.
"[They] cant actually tell me how i survived my family were told there was less than a 1% chance i would pull through," he wrote. "... lost all my toes on both feet and [digits] off this hand, kept my right hand with only some scarring."
Amazingly, the Redditor wrote, after only six months of using a wheelchair he was walking again -- he said he has "toe fillers" so he doesn't wear special shoes -- and life was "much back to normal."
It can't be ignored though that other Redditors pointed to having either bacterial or viral meningitis -- a condition where the meninges, the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord, becomes infected -- that was also misdiagnosed at first. There are 6,000 cases of pneumococcal meningitis and 2,600 cases of the highly contagious meningococcal meningitis in the United States each year, according to the NIH.
It is when the infection enters the blood stream that gangrene can occur as bacteria produces toxins killing living tissue. In some gangrenous cases, whole limbs have to be removed.
According to the National Meningitis Association, 11 percent of people infected with meningococcal disease die. NMA said teens and young adults are among the most likely to contract the infection, with one in seven resulting in death. Twenty percent of those who survive will see long-term consequences, which, in addition to loss of limbs, can include brain damage, kidney damage and hearing loss.
Some signs, according to the MayoClinic, indicating a potential meningitis infection include a sudden high fever, severe headache, stiff neck and vomiting or nausea. Ways to prevent meningitis include some vaccinations and avoiding kissing or sharing utensils, drinks and/or cigarettes with someone who has the infection.
Featured image via Shutterstock.com.