UPDATE: Meningitis Death At Madison Hospital

UPDATED Sunday, January 16, 2011 --- 9:00 a.m.

Thomas Robert "Tommy" Kuehn, age 24 of Madison, died January 13, 2011, after a brief and sudden illness. He was born on November 30, 1986 at St. Mary 's Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin to Thomas A. and Jill (Harris) Kuehn.

Tommy was currently employed as a research assistant for Dr. Bennie Iskandar and Dr. Josh Medow, in the Department of Neurosurgery at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. Driven and talented, Tommy quickly became a shining star among his coworkers. This winter he was studying for his medical school exam to be taken in March.

Tommy graduated in 2010 from UW-Madison with a bachelor's degree in biology. He graduated in 2005 from Stoughton High School with honors, maintaining a 4.0 GPA. He performed with the renowned Norwegian Dancers. While at UW-Madison, Tommy was a member of the UW Badger Cheerleading Squad and enthused countless fans at Badger basketball and football games, both at home and away.

Throughout high school and college, he worked at Coachman's Golf Resort in Stoughton in the pro shop. He played on the Stoughton High School golf team, and was an avid golfer and basketball player.

Tommy touched our lives with his powerful and positive spirit. He shared a loving and encouraging smile to everyone he met. The many messages we have received share a common theme that Tommy was "sweet and kind", "one of the nicest guys around", "a gentleman", "amazing","helpful", "compassionate", "genuine","smart", "resourceful", "happy", "inquisitive","fun", "caring", and "inventive." He always thought of others first. If you knew Tommy, you became a better person in knowing him. He was a great friend and will forever beloved and missed by all. The light he brought to our hearts is darkened by his loss.

Tommy is survived by his parents Thomas A. and Jill (Harris) Kuehn, a sister Nicole Kuehn (Andy) Toso of Stoughton.Grandparents: Thomas and Phyllis (Gunderson) Harris(Beloit, WI)Paternal aunts and uncles: Ginny Sheahan (Dennis),Columbia, SC; Sandy Wittmayer (Tom) Verona, WI; Donald Kuehn (Gloria), FortMills, SC; Judy Lynch (Michael), Tucson, AZ; William Kuehn, Columbus, OH; James Kuehn (Debby), Madison, WI; Joseph Kuehn (Liz), Madison, WI; Mary Kobussen(Joseph), Stoughton, WI; Ruth Olstadt (Bix), Verona, WI; Charles Kuehn,Seattle, WA; Joan Kuehn, Madison, WI; Lynn Lynch (Lawrence), Madison, WI.Maternal aunts and uncles: Jeff Harris (Becky) ofBeloit, WI; Janet Harris of Janesville, WI and Northampton, MA; Jay Harris(Trisha) of East Troy, WI; and Jacqueline Harris of Stoughton, WI.

In addition, 33 cousins, 962 Facebook friends, his favorite dog Bella, neighbor sand the countless thousands of Badger fans he loved to cheer for.

He was predeceased by his paternal grandparents Catherine and Clarence Kuehn, and an uncle Robert Kuehn.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be made to the Tommy Kuehn Memorial Fund, c/o Wells Fargo, 911 West Main Street, Stoughton, WI 53589.


UPDATED Saturday, January 15, 2011 ---- 9:40 a.m.

We appreciate the outpour of love and support from the Stoughton and Madison community.

Tommy was a vibrant young man with such promise; he was loved by many.

We have done everything possible to work with local and state public health officials.

Any further questions can be directed to Public Health Madison & Dane County.

Thank you for giving our family the space and privacy needed to deal with our grief as we remember and honor Tommy.

Jill and Tom Kuehn and family


UPDATED Friday, January 14, 2011 --- 4:10 p.m.

MADISON - The Jan. 13 death of a 24-year-old University of Wisconsin-Madison student is being investigated as probable meningococcal disease, public health officials tell University Health Services (UHS).

"We are very sad to learn of the sudden loss of one of our students," says Sarah Van Orman, M.D., executive director of UHS. "However, there is no reason to believe this case presents a health risk to the UW-Madison community."

In any case where meningococcal disease is suspected in a student, Public Health Madison Dane County (PHMDC) notifies the university, says UHS epidemiologist Craig Roberts. UHS coordinates with officials from PHMDC and will continue to closely monitor the situation.

Following university practice, the student's name is not currently being released to respect the privacy of his family.

Meningococcal disease is a rare and serious bacterial infection that can cause very grave illness or death, and requires early diagnosis and treatment.

It does not persist on surfaces in the environment, and no special cleaning procedures are needed in classrooms or other locations where the person may have been.

The bacteria are spread only through intimate and direct contact with an infected person's oral or nasal secretions. As a precaution, antibiotic prophylaxis may be recommended for persons, such as roommates, who have had extremely close contact with a person's oral secretions, such as by sharing cups and utensils.

In such cases, in addition to coordinating the campus public health response, UHS also assists people who may be affected by the student's illness, says Van Orman: "Whether that consists of grief counseling, or answering questions of students who may be concerned about their health, we do whatever we can."

Bacterial meningococcal disease is an inflammation of the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord, and is typically treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease typically include a fever greater than 101 degrees and a severe, sudden headache accompanied by changes in mental status (such as confusion, disorientation), neck or back stiffness, and rashes.

For more information about meningococcal disease, visit http://www.uhs.wisc.edu/health-topics/diseases-and-conditions/meningococcal-disease.shtml

Students who are concerned about their health or who are interested in speaking to counselors from UHS Counseling and Consultation Services are encouraged to call UHS at 608-265-5600.


Posted Friday, January 14, 2011 --- 2:45 p.m.

According to Jeff Golden, Public Health of Madison and Dane County, one person died of meningitis at a Madison hospital last night.

More information is expected to be released this afternoon.

At this time, the public health department is not releasing any details about the person or the name of the hospital.

We do know the deceased was 24-years-old.

From the CDC.gov:

Meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. The inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is also referred to as spinal meningitis.

Meningitis may develop in response to a number of causes, usually bacteria or viruses, but meningitis can also be caused by physical injury, cancer or certain drugs.

The severity of illness and the treatment for meningitis differ depending on the cause. Thus, it is important to know the specific cause of meningitis. For example, bacterial meningitis is usually more severe than viral, fungal, or parasitic meningitis. Although it can be very serious, bacterial meningitis can be treated with antibiotics that can prevent severe illness and reduce the spread of infection from person to person.

Bacterial meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria (meningococcal disease) can be fatal and should always be viewed as a medical emergency. About 10% of infected people die from the disease. In non-fatal cases, those affected experience long-term disabilities, such as brain damage, loss of limb, or deafness. Preventing the disease through the use of meningococcal vaccine is important.

Although anyone can get meningitis, pre-teens and adolescents, college freshmen who live in dormitories and travelers to countries where meningitis is always present are at an increased risk for meningococcal disease. Before the availability of effective vaccines, bacterial meningitis was most commonly diagnosed in young children. Now, as a result of the protection offered by current childhood vaccines, bacterial meningitis is more commonly diagnosed among pre-teens and young adults.

Like bacterial meningitis, viral meningitis can affect anyone. But infants younger than 1 month old and people whose immune systems are weak are at higher risk for severe infection. People who are around someone with viral meningitis have a chance of becoming infected with the virus that made that person sick, but they are not likely to develop meningitis as a complication of the illness.

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