After the death of her daughter, a West Bloomfield mom sets out to educate community about meningitis B, which is an uncommon condition that can kill quickly.
When Alicia Stillman’s daughter, Emily, called her one night in 2013 complaining of a headache, Stillman thought perhaps Emily was coming down with the flu. The Kalamazoo College student told her mom she probably just needed to rest up after staying up all night studying.
Two days later, Stillman received a call from the college, telling her she needed to get to the hospital right away. Emily had been diagnosed with meningitis B.
“My knowledge of meningitis was very limited, and I’m an educated woman,” says Stillman, of West Bloomfield. “But I knew my daughter had been given a ‘meningitis shot’ before going to college. On my way to theaa hospital, I called them back and said, ‘Please double-check the results. I don’t think it’s meningitis, because she’s had the vaccine and I don’t want her to be mistreated.’
“What I learned later on was that the meningitis shot covers serotypes A, C, W, and Y — those are four of the five most commonly seen in the United States,” she continues. “I didn’t know at the time that there was something called serotype B. And that serotype B was not covered by the shot and we didn’t have a vaccine that covered it in the United States.”
Stillman didn’t realize the severity of her daughter’s condition until she arrived at the hospital, where she found Emily intubated and in a coma. Meningitis can kill very quickly — even within hours of symptoms appearing. Emily died Feb. 2, 2013, 48 hours after Stillman received the call.