Meningitis in your words

Elizabeth Marie Knight's story

  • Location: USA
  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Young Adult 20-25
  • Relationship: Child
  • Outcome: Bereavement
Elizabeth Marie Knight

Elizabeth (Beth) Knight, a healthy 24 year old, caucasian, single mother of two, developed a sudden onset of severe headaches on August 4th, 2015. She was treated at the local ER in a town in Oklahoma and released with a diagnoses of Cephalalgia. She was released that afternoon and she went home and slept until approximately 2pm the next day.

When she awoke her friend called us and said Beth was having difficulty walking, seemed disorientated, and was vomiting with severe headaches. She was taken back to the same ER and ultimately diagnosed with Bacterial Meningitis. Treatment began when she was admitted to ICU the same night. The following morning the neurologist said she deteriorated neurologically overnight and her pupils were fixed and non responsive. 

"It took our daughter, a healthy, vibrant, young mother of two children and in a matter of days she was dead. "

She was intubated and taken by "Haloflight" to Oklahoma City for a higher level of care that morning. Upon arrival the physicians in Oklahoma City said she was clinically brain dead but needed to do tests to confirm. The tests were completed and results revealed that she had no brain activity. After speaking with us and her friends more in detail regarding the activities leading up to her illness, her friend said she was at the lake swimming with her children about three or four days prior to her first onset of headaches.


It was also at this time that the cultures from the lumbar puncture were completed and revealed Naegleria fowleri in the CSF. She was then diagnosed with Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis, PAM. However, there was nothing that could be done since she was already brain dead. This amoeba took our daughter, a healthy, vibrant, young mother of two children and in a matter of days she was dead. 

"We have began an awareness campaign"

The physicians at the first hospital did not ask if she was exposed to water in the previous days. They did not even think of this as a possibility as a cause of her meningitis. We have began an awareness campaign and her facebook page is: Beth Smiles Amoeba Awareness. PAM The medical community must be aware of this as a cause of meningitis, especially in the summer months in the lower states where the water temperature in the lakes and rivers reach 80 degrees.

Since this is not a mandatory reportable disease in all states, the statistics can not be accurate as to the number of cases of meningitis that are due to this amoeba. There is no way to determine the number of cases that are misdiagnosed as bacterial or viral meningitis instead of PAM. We must make the medical community aware of this cause of meningitis. It is 99% fatal but it can be 100% preventable if the public is made aware.


MAY 2015