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Bacterial meningitis claims life of a UW senior, musician

By Jennifer Hoff,
Published On: Apr 15 2013 02:25:03 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 11 2013 10:46:03 PM CDT

Henry Mackaman, 21


Shock and sadness surround the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus Thursday, a day after the sudden death of a student.

Henry Mackaman first felt sick Saturday and died four days later, after his family said he contracted meningitis.

The disease progresses rapidly, but UW health officials said there’s no reason to think this case presents a health risk to the campus community.

"In most all cases of this we see are really sporadic and nobody knows where it comes from," University Health Services Dr. Sarah Van Orman said.

On his CaringBridge website, his family wrote Mackaman had a fever that turned into seizures. Eventually, there was no brain activity and they took him off life support Wednesday.

Van Orman recommended anyone in close contact with Mackaman be treated with antibiotics as a precaution.

"But I also don’t want people to have fear that this is common or it’s going to happen to them or it’s in our community," she said.

Mackaman was a senior studying English and economics, but his first love was music.

The 21-year-old co-founded the band "Phantom Vibration" and played guitar. The band was especially popular in the Twin Cities and just announced it was working on a new album. Mackaman was also a campus DJ and worked at a Madison music company called Merfie for more than a year.

"As a start-up business, everyone works pretty closely together,” Matt Younkle, Merfie co-founder. “Any time anything happens to anybody, it kind of ripples through, but in this case it was totally tragic.”

Mackaman was also an organ donor and helped up to 54 people. Funeral services for him are still being decided.

“Henry was just a terrific human being, always had a smile on his face and was just a terrific guy who will be sorely missed,” Younkle said.

University Health Services encourages anyone in need of counseling or support contact the UHS crisis hotline at 608-265-5600, option 9.

For consultation services, visit the seventh floor of 333 East Campus Mall any time between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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