It is always important to have medical symptoms checked by a doctor, even if you assume that they are relatively harmless. Samantha Scott, a 23-year-old college rower, recently lost her life after removing pain and swelling of the neck as tonsillitis – when in fact it was an extremely rare bacterial infection.
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According to Fox 31 Denver, the Kansas State University student fell ill two weeks before her death. She wiped her symptoms away, thinking it was no big deal. When she finally made it to the hospital, the doctors diagnosed her with Lemierre syndrome. Unfortunately, it was too late to save her life and she died on Saturday.
"Samantha was a great leader for our program and, above all, a great person," her rowing trainer Patrick Sweeney said in a statement from Kansas State University. "She was so popular with all her teammates and has influenced our program both on and off the water so much."
What is Lemierre syndrome?
According to the National Institutes of Health, Lemierre syndrome is a rare and life-threatening infection caused by various bacterial species, but typically Fusobacterium necrophorum. The infection begins in the throat and spreads through the lymphatic vessels. Unfortunately, it is not understood why the disease develops because Fusobacterium necrophorum is often present in the throats of healthy humans.
What are the most common symptoms of Lemierre syndrome?
Common symptoms include sore throat and fever, followed by swelling of the internal carotid artery. Tissues containing pus can spread to various organs, usually the lungs. However, other affected areas may be joints, muscles, skin and soft tissue, liver and spleen.
How is Lemierre syndrome treated?
The disease is usually treated with intravenous antibiotics. If a patient does not respond, internal jugular vein surgery may be required.
Lemierre's syndrome forecast
The mortality rate is only five to ten percent due to advances in antibiotic therapy. However, if the condition is not diagnosed in time, the result will be significantly worse. Possible complications may include bone infections, meningitis and acute respiratory distress syndrome.