LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Jamie Schanbaum was only 20 years old when she got meningitis in college. She considers herself one of the lucky ones despite losing her hands and legs.

Within 14 hours of contracting the virus she was rushed to the hospital, and did not leave for seven months after that. 

"I had no idea what meningitis was. I might had heard of the term, but I didn’t know what it to could lead to," Schanbaum said. "I didn’t know about a vaccine, my family and I were on top of any vaccine that doctors throw at us; we just weren't aware of this."

Schanbaum's legs were amputated below the knee as well as several of her fingers to help prevent the spread of the disease.

Although difficult at first, Schanbaum learned to overcome some of these hurdles. 

"It was obviously very difficult, we use our hands so much from opening things to writing things, to our make up to our buttons. All these things became very new," Schanbaum said.

While going through therapy she was introduced to several Paralympic athletes. Her occupational therapist was one of the many on the Paralympic cycling team, he encouraged her to join.

"He encouraged me and I said yes. Met the right people and within time I was at big events and met more right people," Schanbaum said. "Before I knew it was on the US Paralympic cycling team."

Looking back Schanbaum said she's one of the lucky ones, especially with how her life turned out.

She's an advocate for the meningitis vaccine and hopes more people hear her story and get vaccinated.

"To go through something like that and learn that it could have been prevented is tough. I'm one of the lucky ones. I survived and there's a lot people who don’t survive this devastating disease," Schanbaum said.

Meningitis is very rare across the country and in Nevada. The cases that have been reported most recently can all be traced back to the cause being the Meningitis B type and it being spread at a college or university setting.

In Nevada, the required vaccine for middle schoolers and entering university students is the MenACYW vaccine, which protect against 4 groups of meningitis. However, the Men B vaccine is only recommended.

Copyright 2019 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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