Warsaw Postal Clerk Struck With Meningitis

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Warsaw postal clerk Leanna Powers was hospitalized Wednesday evening, October 23, with Spinal Meningitis. It has been determined that the disease was caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, a bacteria that causes an acute infection. After friends and family feared for her outcome, Powers started showing progress tackling the disease at the beginning of this week.
“At first my sister was put into an induced coma, was on ventilation and antibiotics,” said Debbie Hostetter. “But she has been slowly taken out of her coma and is no longer on ventilation. Today (October 28) she has been awake all day and has been talking a little, can move her legs and feet and squeeze her hands. It is a miracle!”
Hostetter said that Powers went to the doctor about a week before being hospitalized because she had a cold and very low immune system. She said that Powers then complained of headaches, and eventually became a little out of her head. Medical personnel told Hostetter that the bacteria attacked her spine because of her cold and low immune system. She did not catch the disease from anyone, and is not contagious.
“I was told at the hospital that this was the worst case they had seen for a long time, and that her white blood count, in her spine, was 2100,” said Hostetter (normal range is usually between 4,000 and 11,000 per microliter of blood, according to www.s.healthnwell.com.) “She is going to have an MRI later this week to see how much of the brain is infected. The results of the MRI will determine how she progresses and whether or not she will need therapy.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Bacterial meningitis is very serious and can be deadly. In some cases, death can occur in as little as a few hours. Most people recover from meningitis, but permanent disabilities can result from the infection. Although this disease can be spread to others under certain circumstances through close contact with other people, that is not the case with Powers. Family members reported that hospital personnel stated that Powers’ disease was not contagious, and this fact was backed up by the Benton County Health Department (BCHD) on the morning of October 28. 
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reports that Pneumococci cause over 50 percent of all cases of bacterial meningitis in the U.S. Symptoms may include headache, lethargy, vomiting, irritability, fever, nuchal rigidity (inability to flex the neck forward), cranial nerve signs, seizures and coma. The case-fatality rate of pneumococcal meningitis is about eight percent among children and 22 percent among adults.
The term “meningitis” can cause great concern to the public because of the possibility of contagion and seriousness of the disease. The Morgan County school district was in the news last month and in 2018 with suspected cases of meningitis in its middle school in Versailles. A Morgan County Health Department spokesman said that two cases in the schools turned out to be viral meningitis, and not as serious as the bacterial form. He said that there was another case of bacterial meningitis last year, but it was never confirmed because a spinal was not taken. He said that all three patients had overcome the disease and were doing well at this time.
When asked what friends and other concerned well wishers could do for Powers, Hostetter said that prayers would be the best thing.