The Dennstedt family is mourning the loss of their 19-year-old daughter, Northern Arizona University student Lianne Dennstedt.
She died as a result of rare complications from meningitis, an aggressive bacterial infection Lianne was a sophomore studying environmental science at NAU, and she fell ill just as the new school year began this fall.
According to her official YouCaring page, her medical team thinks that what began has a sore throat “became so infected that the infection traveled through the tissues of her throat into her jugular veins. Blood clots developed in her jugular veins and became infected as well. Simultaneously, the infection traveled backward through the tissues of her neck into her spinal column where her spinal fluid became infected. The infected spinal fluid is what caused the brain to become infected and swell (meningitis).”
Lianne also developed pneumonia, and it was very fast-moving. As written on her page, “Lianne’s condition was caused by a bacteria, but it was not from an outside source, the bacteria came from inside her own body. No one is to blame. People get sick. Even in the good ole United States of America, good people get sick. ”
Meningitis is a rare infection, but reported cases show that it is most prevalent in places where large groups of young people live in close contact, such as college campuses and military bases.
Lianne, an outgoing, intelligent young woman, graduated from Murrieta Valley High School in California, where she was a decorated athlete and member of the cross country team. She passed away surrounded by her loving family, who released this statement:
“Last night, we experienced what no parent should have to endure. Our precious daughter, Lianne, lost her battle with a rare and aggressive bacterial infection that caused meningitis and other complications. Our family is devastated by the loss of our vibrant, loving Lianne, who had a tender soul and brought so much joy and laughter to the world. Lianne fought for her life during two weeks in intensive care, with a team of specialists doing everything they could. Despite every conceivable effort and prayer to keep her with us, Lianne passed away peacefully with her loving family by her side. While we cannot begin to describe the unimaginable sorrow of losing a child, we take comfort knowing Lianne is with the angels in Heaven now. She was the light of our lives, and we must now begin the long, painful journey to understand a life without her in it.”
Her family, in lieu of flowers, are accepting memorial donations here.
Officials have assured the NAU community that this meningitis infection is not contagious. However, it is important to get all vaccinations and wash hands frequently. For more information on meningitis, please visit the official CDC website.