Girl, 5, dies from meningitis just days after falling ill

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Thursday, August 27, 2015
VIDEO: Girl, 5, dies from meningitis just days after falling ill
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Lyliana Fernandez died from a rare case of bacterial meningitis.

ERMA, N.J. -- About one week ago, 5-year-old Lyliana Fernandez began to feel sick.

Just a few days later the little girl from Erma, New Jersey, died from a rare case of bacterial meningitis.

Pictures of Lyliana posted on a GoFundMe page show a vibrant, healthy child.

"She was giving, she would think of everybody else first and herself last. She was always smiling and laughing," said her grandmother, Tammy Decker.

Decker said while she didn't know the medical specifics, she said Lyliana's doctors first thought it was an ear infection and fever.

"They did the antibiotics from the wide spectrum, from the one end to the other. It was a chase, they didn't really know what it was," she said.

When Lyliana's symptoms worsened she was rushed to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where she underwent several brain surgeries.

But the girl fell into a coma and lost brain function.

The Cape May County health department could only confirm there was a case of streptococcus pneumoniae reported this month. It is one of the most common causes of bacterial spinal meningitis.

The county's director of nursing, Natalie Sender, says there is no reason for area parents to panic.

"Strep pneumonia can be found in 20 to 40 percent of children," she said.

Most children get five doses of the vaccine before the age of five. Decker says her granddaughter was vaccinated.

Lyliana, who loved dancing and gardening with her grandmother will be laid to rest later this week.

"From birth I would call her my little angel, but who would know she truly was an angel," Decker said.

Lyliana was set to begin school in just a few weeks. The superintendent of her school district said they were mourning her loss.