Meningitis victim's father questions hospital decision - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Meningitis victim's father questions hospital decision


MADISON (WKOW) -- The father of UW-Madison student Henry Mackaman tells 27 News he questions a Madison hospital's decision to release his son days before Mackaman died from meningitis.

"I was troubled to learn that Henry had been sent home from the hospital after coming in with a temperature as high as 104," Doug Mackaman told 27 News, when reached by phone at his St. Paul home.

Mackaman tells 27 News his son went to Meriter Hospital April 6 with a fever and feeling ill. Mackaman says Henry Mackaman was sent home Sunday, but returned to the hospital within a day after some slight, improvement in symptoms ended, and the 21-year old student's condition worsened.

"If Henry had been able to receive a broad spectrum antibiotic far earlier than he did, there is at least perhaps some chance, the course of events would have been different," Doug Mackaman told 27 News.

Meriter Hospital spokesperson Mary Reinke cited federal privacy law in declining comment on both Henry Mackaman's hospital care, and hospital staff's approach to diagnosing meningococcal disease.

UW-Madison epidemiologist Craig Roberts cautions the disease can advance and be fatal, even if prompt, appropriate medical care is administered.  Roberts also says the disease's symptoms can appear similar to the symptoms of conditions such as influenza, where the administration of antibiotics is not called for.

But Roberts tells 27 News early detection of meningitis is important.

"The key is probably recognizing the infection at some point in time and getting people on an appropriate antibiotic that will treat the infection," Roberts says.

College students, especially in dormitory settings, are considered at higher risk for meningococcal disease, as a result of their close contact, and the risk of bacteria spread through sharing drink cups, cigarettes and other items.

"Any time a college student-age person has a fever that pushes to 100 or above, the seriousness, or potential seriousness of a meningitis issue needs to be raised," Doug Mackaman says.

Family members say Henry Mackaman succumbed to the disease, even though he received a vaccination, and a booster shot against meningococcal disease.

Roberts says the vaccine against four strains of the disease is considered eighty-five to ninety percent effective.

Roberts says a group-B strain of meningitis has no vaccine available to combat it in the U.S. Roberts says this strain is linked to fifty-percent of college-age cases in Wisconsin in the past decade.

Using the vaccine as protection against the disease is considered so important that the law requires college freshmen living in dormitories to sign a document acknowledging they have been informed of the disease threat, and the available vaccine.



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