It's one of the most deadly diseases and yet many people might not be aware of how dangerous meningitis can be. On Tuesday, a brave teen from the U.K. suffering from the disease shared her photos to Facebook to warn the public about the realities of meningitis.
Eighteen-year-old Charlene Colechin has been hospitalized with meningitis for about a month — including a nine-day period when she was in a medically induced coma.
"I kept throwing up, then I had a really bad headache like a migraine, and all my body was aching," Colechin told BBC News. "My heels are black. That could mean dead tissue, which could be infected and which could go up my legs."
While she is recovering in the hospital, doctors informed her that they will surgically remove her toes — and possibly her feet.
On Tuesday, Colechin shared photos of her in the hospital to shed light on the debilitating consequences of meningitis.
"These are not nice photos but this is the reality of what meningitis can do," she wrote on Facebook. "Please share this post to raise awareness of how serious meningitis can be and is."
As of Thursday, her Facebook post had been shared nearly 500 times.
While there are many types of infections that can cause meningitis, the result is almost the same. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes meningitis as an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
While being careful around people who have the disease and washing your hands might help someone avoid meningitis, the best prevention tools are vaccines. In fact, there are at least three vaccines for meningitis available: the meningococcal conjugate vaccine, the meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine, and the serogroup B meningococcal B vaccine.