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Meningitis Victim Dies
Stacy Countz, a Huntsville resident and Sam Houston State University student who became ill with bacterial meningitis a week ago, died as a result of the condition Saturday afternoon at Conroe Regional Medical Center.
Countz, 19, was diagnosed with the bacterial form of meningitis Aug. 3, one day after she began exhibiting some of the flu-like symptoms of the illness. Her mother, Patti Countz, said Stacy began vomiting that day and had a severe headache.
Stacy was taken to the emergency room at Huntsville Memorial Hospital, where the staff diagnosed her illness and started treatment. She was later transferred to Conroe Regional Medical Center.
Despite the early diagnosis, Countz remained in critical condition at Conroe Regional Medical Center throughout the week with swelling in part of her brain. By Wednesday, tests revealed the swelling had gone down and she began showing involuntary bodily reflexes in increased numbers by Thursday, said her father, Mike Countz.
"As of Thursday, she really had a lot of movement," he said from his home Saturday. "We thought she was making a lot of progress."
Meningitis is an infection that causes inflammation of the fluid in the brain and the spinal cord. The bacterial form of the disease is fatal in about 10 percent of the cases and is more serious than the other form, viral meningitis.
Despite the earlier progress, Stacy's condition began to worsen late in the week and the swelling in her brain continued.
"Friday she started to regress," Mike Countz said. "She didn't move her limbs as much. (Saturday) morning she was unresponsive. She wasn't moving. (The hospital) staff started checking her. They ran a CAT scan on her. Apparently the swelling of the brain had gotten to a point where it had started to hemorrhage."
Countz died Saturday afternoon without ever having regained consciousness.
Funeral services for Countz are pending through the Huntsville Funeral Home.
Countz, who was born April 15, 1983, spent her entire life in the area. She was a member of Huntsville High School's class of 2000 but graduated one semester early. She immediately began taking classes at SHSU, where she was majoring in criminal justice.
As news of Stacy's death spread Saturday, Mike Countz said members of the community began to contact the family.
"We had a tremendous outpouring of sympathy and support from people throughout the community," he said. "Both while she was ill and now. We're still getting calls."
He said various community organizations expressed concern as soon as Stacy became ill.
"She was on the prayer list for just about every church in the community," Mike Countz said. "A lot of people were interested in how she was doing.
"This is something that's good for us and the grieving process," he added. "To be able to feel like so many people cared about her."
Earlier in the week there was some concern about whether or not anyone else came in contact with Stacy Countz enough to become infected.
In an interview with The Huntsville Item on Aug. 6, Dr. Mhrete Gebre Selassie, director of the Walker County Health Authority, said anyone who was at risk for contracting the disease was being tested. To date, there has been no reported spread in the bacteria.
The symptoms for meningitis are sometimes confused with the flu, since signs can include high body temperatures, headaches, vomiting and stiff joints. Failure to treat meningitis can result in hearing loss, blindness, brain and nerve damage, and death.
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