When Bella Fidler came back from a holiday party after her exam in Bali, she had everything to look forward to.
But the Gold Coast law graduate is said to be dead within a week of contracting meningococcal B, which can cause deadly bacterial meningitis.
Now her parents are sharing Bella’s story in an effort to include the deadly strain that killed her in state-funded vaccination campaigns.
Ms Fidler, 23, had a fever after coming home from the girls’ trip in December last year and complained to her parents that she wasn’t feeling ‘well’.
Bella Fidler, 23, had just graduated from Griffith University with a law degree when she was stricken with meningitis
“Bella walked into the hospital in the early hours of the morning with flu-like symptoms, which she thought could be Covid,” her parents Blair and Jodie Fidler told Meningitis Center Australia.
Once there, she quickly became seriously ill and the doctors eventually diagnosed her with bacterial meningitis.
“Within hours, our lives were shattered by the devastating news that Bella had suffered extensive brain damage and was not expected to survive.”
Her parents aren’t sure where she contracted it – all they know is that she was gone within 24 hours of feeling unwell.
Bella’s flu-like symptoms quickly worsened to the point that she had a seizure before going into cardiac arrest.
Doctors couldn’t prevent her from suffering irreparable brain damage.
Blair and Jodie Fidler are campaigning to include the deadly strain that killed their beloved daughter, Bella (pictured) – meningococcal B – in state-funded vaccination campaigns for Australian schoolchildren
Her parents were initially confused about how she could have contracted meningitis when she was vaccinated against meningococcus in high school – like most Australian children.
“We found out later that the deadly meningococcal B strain is not on the national vaccination schedule, although a vaccine for the B strain is available if you know about it and can afford it,” his parents explained. out.
Her parents are now campaigning for strain B vaccinations, which cost $200 for two doses, to be included in the state-funded immunization campaign.
Bella had returned from a post-exam holiday party in Bali with friends when she fell ill
“As is the case for many other people who contract meningococcus, by the time a diagnosis is made it is too late to prevent serious neurological damage, limb loss or death,” they said.
“The only effective prevention for these tragic consequences is vaccination.”
Only South Australia includes meningococcal B in its vaccination program, meaning most of our young people in Australia remain at risk of contracting the disease.
Ms Fidler’s parents claim that meningococcal B is now the most common strain in Australia.
It is spread through close, prolonged contact, including kissing, sneezing, or sharing drinks or food.
In a small number of cases, the bacteria can spread into the bloodstream and cause illness, with about 10 percent of cases being fatal, according to Meningitis Center Australia.
Bella’s parents said she (pictured) “could light up a room with her smile and her big blue eyes, and she was funny and wacky and classy at the same time.”
Just under 400 people died from meningococcal disease between 1997 and 2016, with 32 percent of them under the age of five, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Bella’s parents sponsor the $500 Arabella (Bella) Fidler Memorial Prize in International Human Rights Law at Griffith University, where she attended.
“Her passions were human and animal rights, and 2023 would be her year to make the impact on the world she always dreamed of,” her parents said.
Tragically, Bella was never able to attend her graduation or Christmas 2022, and these dreams will never come true.
“There were so many milestones to come in life, which she will now never experience or share with her family and friends.”
Her parents described her as “the most faithful friend who stood by people in difficult and happy times; she was always there for them no matter what.”
“Bella could light up a room with her smile and her big blue eyes, and she was fun and goofy and classy all at the same time.”