Cruel twist of fate: Wife of man who died from meningococcal disease hospitalised

A DEVASTATED daughter has told her critically sick mother “to keep fighting” as she battles to overcome a deadly meningococcal diagnosis just weeks after her husband died of the same disease.

In a cruel twist of fate, Nicole Lumsden, 31, of Munno Para, has told The Advertiser her mum Gillian Taylor, 52, is currently on life support at the Lyell McEwin Hospital, diagnosed with the meningococcal B-strain.

It comes just weeks after Ms Lumsden’s step-father Mark Taylor, 53, died of the same strain just five hours after he fell ill on July 17.

While the family is hopeful Ms Taylor will make a full recovery, Ms Lumsden again urged the State and Federal governments to make the meningococcal B-strain vaccine free for everyone.

“I want the vaccine to be available for free like a flu shot,” she said.

“Nobody should have to go through this – it’s devastating.

media_cameraFIGHT: Nicole Lumsden with mum Gillian and step-father Mark.
Picture: Supplied by family

“It (meningococcal B) is killing people, it’s breaking people’s families – people die so fast if it’s not caught in time.

“If mum just said ‘I’ll be fine’ and waited another day, she probably would have died from this disease.”

Only a few weeks after burying her husband, Ms Taylor, of Greenwith, had been campaigning to get the vaccine on the nation’s taxpayer-funded National Immunisation Program, like the current C-strain vaccine which is given for free to all children. At present, the B-strain vaccine is in high demand and costs $125 an injection. For young children, four are needed in total and adolescents require two shots.

Ms Lumsden’s said her mother could not afford the B-strain vaccine so did not get one after Mr Taylor died.

“She’s on a pension – she struggles with funds,” she said.

“On Monday, she (Gillian) was complaining that her neck was really sore and stiff, she had a headache and she was drowsy.”

After being transferred from Modbury Hospital to the Lyell McEwin, Ms Taylor was quickly diagnosed with the disease. “She presented with spots (on her body) and had an infection on her brain,” Ms Lumsden said.

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She said doctors were hopeful her mum would begin breathing on her own tomorrow “and wake up from sedation”.

“She will react when I talk to her, she’ll squeeze my hand if I tell her to … I told her to keep fighting and that I love her,” she said.

Health authorities are trying to determine the source of the disease but it appears unlikely Mr Taylor infected his wife due to the time between the two infections.

So far this year, there have been 28 cases of the disease in SA, compared with 20 at the same time last year.

Eighteen cases have been the B-strain, seven have been the W-strain and three cases the Y-strain.

Signs of the disease include high fever and a rash which starts as small pinprick-like dots, as well as vomiting, leg pain, headache, stiff neck and sensitivity to light.

– with Brad Crouch

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