5 Year Old Dies From Meningitis

By: Lauren Squires Email
By: Lauren Squires Email

“Awesome big brother, big helper,” Amanda Knecht said as she described her son.

5 year old Austin Lee Cozad-Knecht was supposed to start kindergarten Thursday.

“This time last week he was outside running back and forth on this sidewalk,” Knecht said.

Now his family is planning a funeral after the boy died from meningitis Tuesday.

“We don't even know how he got it, he was here at home. We never even when to the store in the last week. There was no reason, he was here playing,” Knecht said.

Austin's mom says Friday night he first started complaining of a headache. By Saturday night he had a fever. Sunday morning she was in the emergency room.

“And even as a mother I would have never ever thought it was as bad as it was,” Knecht said.

After several tests, doctors determined it was meningitis but it was too late. Tuesday he died from the bacterial infection.

“You don't know how he got it, you don't know how this happened to a little baby but, just scary cause there is nothing we could have done to even know that he wouldn't be able to fight it off,” Knecht said.

Doctors tell Knecht her son likely had the bacteria in his system like most of us but he didn't have the anti-bodies to fight it.

“The thing with this bacteria is that a lot of people carry them around and are not sick with them so they are common germs. It just happens to be that someone is at risk for them and catches it, sometimes from somebody else, sometimes its things that they carried around themselves for some time. It's very difficult to say,” Dr. Archana Chatterjee with Children’s Hospital and Medical Center said.

Now instead of Austin starting the first day of kindergarten, his family is planning their last goodbye.

“You never plan on burying your baby,” Knecht said.

Austin had two siblings; a younger brother and sister. The family is setting up a memorial fund to help pay for the cost of a funeral, as well as medical bills.

You can make a donation in Austin’s name at Mid States Bank in Council Bluffs at 1851 Madison, Suite 732 Council Bluffs, IA 51503

We also spoke with a doctor, about what you can do as a parent to protect your child from meningitis.

Many of the symptoms appear to be very common especially a headache or fever like Austin. There are several vaccines available. They're licensed for anyone over 9 months but most doctors don't recommend it for young kids.

The doctor we spoke with recommends it for 11 or 12 year old kids. And says it's a must for anyone who may be living in a dorm-like environment. As always, it's best to talk with your doctor about your child's specific situation.

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