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Funeral Saturday For Child Who Died Of Meningitis

After hearing that a 6-year-old Vicksburg girl died of bacterial meningitis, a Jackson man shares his harrowing story of survival.
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The funeral is Saturday for a 6-year-old Vicksburg girl who died of bacterial meningitis.

Vshanti Washington became ill Friday and died early Sunday morning at Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson, Warren County Coroner Doug Huskey said. An autopsy performed Monday confirmed that she died of bacterial meningitis, Huskey said.

Slideshow: 6-Year-Old Dies Of Meningitis

Washington was a first-grade student at Dana Road Elementary School, school officials said. The six children who came into close contact with Washington were prescribed antibiotics and were in school on Wednesday, school officials said.

About 3,000 Americans die from the disease each year, according to the

National Meningitis Association

. Surviving bacterial meningitis can still mean a lot of pain. About 20 percent of survivors are left with permanent disabilities, the NMA said.

“I feel for that little girl. I hate that happened to her. I'm grown and older and barely could take it, so I know she just went through a rough time,” Larry Bracey said.

Bracey said memories of his own bout with bacterial meningitis came flooding back Tuesday after he watched the story about Washington’s death on 16 WAPT News. He said he contracted the disease in April 2008.

Just like in Washington's case, Bracey went from being well to near death in a matter of hours. He also developed sepsis, a very bad infection that left scars on his body where the disease burned him from the inside out.

"It was burning me so bad to where I was telling the doctor, 'Just put me to sleep, I can't even take it,'" Bracey said.

He has had several skin graft surgeries and still has more to go, he said.

“It was pure pain for about four months and even now, I still hurt,” Bracey said. “It's still hard for me to deal with, physically and mentally."

Like in Washington’s case, doctors don't know where Bracey contracted the disease. One in five people carry the bacteria in the back of their throat and can infect others without even knowing it, according to medical experts. It's transferred by coughing, sneezing, or close contact with another person.

Visitation for Washington is Friday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Lakeview Funeral Home in Vicksburg. Her funeral is Saturday at 2 p.m. at Carmel Ministries in Vicksburg.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people 11 to 18 years old get vaccinated for bacterial meningitis. Children as young as 2 can get the vaccination.

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