Otherwise Healthy 8-year-old Girl Dead 24 Hours After Onset of Symptoms

A colleague at work recently lost her 8-year-old half-sister. As best as anyone can tell (and this information is third- and fourth-hand), the girl was fine & dandy Saturday, complained of stomach upset & had a fever Sunday morning, was in the hospital Sunday night, and was pronounced dead at 6:20 Monday morning.

IANAD, but this screams “Meningitis” to me if those commercials for the meningits vaccine are to be believed. However, the colleague in question says that her dad (the little girl’s father) says that he’s been told it wasn’t meningits.

I suppose nothing will be known until the autopsy is performed, but in the mean time can anyone put forth a theory?

There is no way to know. It could be anything. A four year old boy at my church came down with similar symptoms one night and bad things started happening just that fast. He collapsed and his parents called an ambulance. He was dead before he got to the hospital 30 minutes later. It was caused by some type of weird intestinal blockage. I still can’t look at a large picture of him on the wall of the church without crying. I lost a very young daughter too under even more unusual medical circumstances. The time from perfect health (as checked by doctors) to terminal brain coma was less than three hours with no environmental cause. It is absolutely horrible but it does happen and there are lots of things that can cause something like that.

Many things can cause such a severe decline followed by death. Overwhelming sepsis from common infections like pneumonia, hemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm, massive bowel infarcts from torsion or thrombosis, circulatory collapse from pulmonary emboli, and many others.

Could also have been a ruptured appendix, which can be mis-diagnosed. Really. I’ve been there.

As has been said, there are many things that could cause sudden death in children.

That said, the most common cause is meningococcocemia. The TV ads use the term meningitis because it’s more familiar, and is caused by the same bacteria.

As others have said, it can be a lot of things. My Aunt died very suddenly under similar circumstances. She went from OK, to sick, to hospital, to coma, to dead, in less than a week. This is an otherwise healthy woman in her early 40’s. I don’t remember the whole story but think it was strep in her lungs, complicated by septicemia.

My last sweetie was fine on July 1, got what he thought was the flu on July 2, went in the hospital on July 3, and died on July 4th of a very fast acting pneumonia.

OT, but since the question has been answered, I gotta love the Google ad for Meningitis Malpractice that pops up b/c of this thread. It’s enough to drive any former ED physician to become a traveling salesman.

My next-door neighbors’ 20-year old son died a couple years ago of what was probably meningococcocemia. Fine to flu-like to coma to dead in 36 hours.

A thousand miracles of natural biotech work to keep us alive every minute. The machinery is pretty robust, but it doesn’t take that much to fall off the bike & crash.

A professor I had in University was in perfect health on December 24 in the morning. She got sick in mid-day, with a fever and flu symptoms. She got worse, went to the E.R. on December 25 and was dead by the 26th.

This was about 7 years ago.

The cause was some amazingly obscure disease that only kills hundreds a year.

People can die from anything.


The one that is weird to me is a kid can inhale a tiny amount of water and hours later they die from drowning and nobody knows anything is wrong until they die.

It’s never Lupus!


Possibly, but that may be a bit of a media mistake. It doesn’t sound like this was a true case of Dry Drowning, and there were subtle but distinct indications that this kid was having problems.

On the first part of the media mistake: Yep. But the phrase has been ingested with the story, and that’s going to be the way it’s reported forevermore.

I have no medical background, but my take on it was that the kid aspirated some chlorinated (and-who-knows-what-else-ated) water, and started having an adverse reaction to it internally probably pretty soon afterwards. It wasn’t until he was near death from it that his mother realized just how bad it was.

I think the thing that kills kids most frequently (besides accidents) is respiatory collapse.

I have a friend who works at a hospital and has to sit in on the weekly “How Patient X Died” meetings and there’s a surprising number of genetic conditions that nobody bothers to test for which cause people to suddenly drop dead from.

A person can become severely dehydrated very quickly if he or she has a stomach bug and has diarrhea; if the fluids are not replaced, it can be fatal.

No hijack intended but I gotta ask, where do you work that you have an 8-year-old colleague?

It didn’t say the colleague was 8 years old, just the half-sister. One of the parents had kids greatly separated by age.