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Mary’s Story

After returning home from a trip to the Philippines, Mary and her husband began noticing changes in their 17-month old daughter Zemira.  She was vomiting every day, lethargic, irritable, and had no appetite.

“She was a healthy girl. She’s very active. She’s climbing the couches saying mama, papa, asking for her milk. Basically, she’s just starting to get all of this developmental like milestones. And then suddenly, she got this terrible disease,” says Mary.

They took Zemira to her pediatrician.  The doctor became alarmed at Zemira’s dehydration and stiff neck and thought it might be meningitis.  Zemira immediately went to the hospital.  She would stay in the hospital for two months.

After extensive testing, Zemira was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) meningitis. TB meningitis is a form of TB that occurs in the tissue surrounding the brain or spinal cord.

“I was very scared. We were confused, because we thought tuberculosis is an ancient disease. We thought it has been eradicated a long time ago. So we were kind of confused, scared, scared for the life of our child,” Mary recalls.

The uncertainty around Zemira’s condition was extremely difficult for Mary.  She turned to her family for support, as well as the guidance and expertise from her local health department.

“When Zemira is in the hospital, I’m losing hope, because I don’t know if my daughter would survive this. And then of course when you got the tuberculosis, the local health department goes to the hospital. And it’s the first time that I have hope. They have seen cases, cases in children that have tuberculosis, and they have survived it. And just telling me that, that sentence gave me hope,” says Mary.

Zemira returned home to complete 20 months of treatment for TB meningitis.  She completed treatment in August 2019 and no longer has TB meningitis.  Zemira is now on the road to full recovery.

“Hopefully, Zemira’s the last child to suffer from TB meningitis or tuberculosis itself. Hopefully, we’re the last family that could suffer from this disease because when you see your child suffering that way, it’s really, really hard,” says Mary.

“We have to end TB. We have to end tuberculosis, and the time is now”, says Mary.

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When Mary’s 17-month old daughter Zemira was diagnosed with TB meningitis, she was very worried and scared for her child. Like many people, she thought TB was a thing of the past. She shares her story in hopes that Zermira is the last child to suffer from TB meningitis. Learn more: https://go.usa.gov/xHbG2external icon

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When Mary’s 17-month old daughter Zemira was diagnosed with #TB meningitis, she was very worried and scared for her child. She shares her story in hopes that Zermira is the last child to suffer from TB meningitis. Watch her story to learn more: https://go.usa.gov/xHbG2external icon