Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Vaccines Health Center

Font Size

Surviving Meningitis: Carl Buher’s Story

A young survivor of meningitis is now active in a campaign to raise awareness of the meningitis vaccine.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

On an autumn day in 2003, Carl Buher came down with a high fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and exhaustion. His parents, Curt and Lori Buher, thought he had flu, like his football buddies. But when Carl became disoriented and developed purple splotches all over his face and arms, they rushed him to the doctor.

The Mt. Vernon, Wash., 14-year-old had contracted meningococcal disease, also known as bacterial meningitis, a rare but potentially deadly infection that can kill a healthy young person in less than a day.

So aggressive was Carl's infection that he had to be airlifted to Children's Hospital in Seattle. En route, he was resuscitated three times. Once hospitalized, doctors put him in a drug-induced coma for four weeks and treated him with 25 different medications to keep his body functioning. The high doses of antibiotics weren't enough. The fast-moving infection resulted in gangrene and he lost both feet and three fingers to amputation.

In just five months, Carl went from a strapping 185-pound football player to a weak 119-pound teenager. The seven operations for skin grafting and amputation were only the beginning. Physical therapy continued for years afterward.

Despite the hardships, Carl and his parents are far from bitter. "I want people to look on my experience not as a bad thing, but a good thing," Carl tells WebMD.

Who’s at Risk for Meningitis

Before their son got sick, Curt and Lori Buher say they weren't aware of the vaccine available to prevent the disease -- nor the disease itself.

Teens and young adults are at increased risk for meningitis, accounting for about 15% of all cases reported in the U.S., according to the National Meningitis Association. Certain lifestyle factors, such as crowded conditions in college dormitories or irregular sleep patterns, are thought to increase risk of the disease.

The disease affects about 1,500 Americans a year. It’s transmitted through an exchange of respiratory droplets, such as sneezing or coughing, or through direct contact with someone infected, such as kissing.

One of seven cases among teens results in death, according to the National Meningitis Association.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Baby getting vaccinated
Is there a link? Get the facts.
syringes and graph illustration
Get a customized vaccine schedule.
baby getting a vaccine
Know the benefits and the risk
nurse holding syringe in front of girl
Should your child have it?

What To Know About The HPV Vaccine
24 Kid Illnesses Parents Should Know
Nausea and Vomiting Remedies Slideshow
Managing Immunization Schedules For Kids

Doctor administering vaccine to toddler
gloved hand holding syringe
infant receiving injection

WebMD Special Sections