Indiana parents warn others after daughter’s ear infection turns out to be fatal meningitis

An Indiana girl has died of bacterial meningitis that her parents and doctors first thought was a simple ear infection.

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Abbigayle Johnson, 10, died Wednesday from complications stemming from bacterial meningitis, WNDU-TV reported.

The girl’s parents said her symptoms began Saturday with an earache. The Johnsons took Abbi to an emergency room, where staff diagnosed the girl with an ear infection, said Abbi’s mother, Tasha Dipietro-Anderson.

On Saturday evening, Abbi was vomiting and having headaches -- both common symptoms of an ear infection. But on Monday, Abbi had a seizure.

The Johnsons returned to the ER. Staff checked Abbi for the flu and then decided to do a bone tap to check for meningitis. Complications from the bone tap led to Abbi going into a coma.

On Tuesday, Abbi lost all brain activity. She died Wednesday evening.

While they mourn, Abbi’s parents want other parents to be aware of meningitis symptoms.

“The child may complain of a sore throat or earache,” said Dr. Lydia Mertz, the Elkhart County, Indiana, health officer. “Then they have muscle aches, their neck may be stiff, they may have trouble nodding their head or moving around, they may have body aches.”

Abbi’s parents decided to donate her organs.

“I wanted something good to come out of it, so we donated her organs,” Dipietro-Anderson said. “I’m hoping that they can find recipients for everything.”

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