JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Florida teen died after contracting mononucleosis, doctors say. Now, her father is speaking out.
Mono is such a common virus, especially in teenagers. It's not common to die from it, but it can happen and now a young girl's family wants people to learn more about mono so others don't suffer the same loss.
"She was a very giving soul she would give anybody anything," said Mark Delfs. She was a giving soul whose body gave up too soon. "She had cold symptoms. The persistent thing all the way through was a headache she seemed to always have a headache," said Delfs.
A Go Fund Me page shows Ariana Rae Delfs -- Ana to many -- as your typical 17-year-old high schooler. She was a solid student, an athlete, and an artist but everything changed three weeks ago. It started with headaches that her father says kept getting worse, and then they rushed her to the hospital in Jacksonville. "Her words were very slurred at times she was just talking gibberish and the damage was already beginning at that point which we just didn't know," said Delfs, Ana's father.
Ana Delfs was in the hospital for only three days when her father had to say goodbye. She was ultimately diagnosed with mono, a common virus but one that doctors weren't able to detect right away.
"The symptoms are very vague in some ways. They’re kind of like any other childhood common illness," said Dr. Jenna Wheeler. Dr.
Wheeler is a pediatric critical care doctor at Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando. She didn't treat Ana but says mono sometimes doesn't show up in bloodwork.
"Depending upon where you are in the stage of the virus, of how much of the virus is within your bloodstream."
If left too long, it can worsen, which is exactly what happened to Ana. "The likelihood is low, but it’s obviously there," said Dr. Wheeler.
Ana's father is now on a mission to educate people about the risks of mono and the importance of paying attention to symptoms.
"In our case, it wasn't enough but in somebody else's case it may save their life."
Doctors say if you're having typical viral symptoms but they're just not going away, call your doctor or go to the hospital.