COVID Nurse Has Hands, Feet Amputated After Catching Meningitis on Vacation

A COVID nurse and father of two has had both of his hands and feet amputated after contracting meningitis.

37-year-old Jon Aquino became seriously ill during a family vacation at the Jersey Shore in the late summer.

After falling ill, he was airlifted to Cooper University Hospital in Camden, New Jersey, with a high fever on Sunday, August 25, and was subsequently diagnosed with a bacterial form of meningitis, which can be fatal.

In addition to the fever, Jon Aquino developed sepsis. The tissue in his hands and feet started to die, causing them to turn black.

Jon Aquino went into septic shock, and had to be intubated and sedated due to a brain bleed, and liver and kidney failure.

Less than a month later, on Sunday, September 19, both of Aquino's hands were amputated, and four days later his feet were amputated.

"We were very proactive about him getting the amputations, because we knew there was nothing that could be done," Jon Aquino's wife Kay Aquino, who is also a nurse, told NJ.com.

"So when you know nothing can be done, you have to move forward. You can't move forward until you get rid of dead stuff."

A bacterial meningitis infection can be caused by one of several types of bacteria. It can spread from person to person via saliva or mucus, or through contaminated food. Jon Aquino caught what is know as strep meningitis.

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis include fever, headaches, neck stiffness, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity and confusion, which usually emerge within a week of infection.

It is important to begin treatment with antibiotics as early as possible, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As was the case with Jon Aquino, strep meningitis can also trigger sepsis, an extreme and potentially fatal autoimmune response that can cause further damage, including tissue damage, organ failure and low blood pressure.

Jon Aquino is continuing to receive care at McGee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia.

His wife has said that he has learned how to feed himself and comb his hair with the aid of a temporary prosthetic device. He can also navigate himself from his hospital bed to a wheelchair and into a shower chair.

He has also recovered from liver failure, but is still suffering with kidney failure.

The nurse had been caring for COVID patients since March 2020, when his unit at Jefferson Stratford Hospital in New Jersey became a dedicated COVID unit.

Jon Aquino is determined to return to work in the future, and to run again with the use of prosthetics.

Friends and colleagues have created a GoFundMe page to raise awareness of Aquino's condition, and funds to help cover hospital bills, equipment and treatments that he may require.

Bacteria colony in a Petri dish
A strep meningitis infection can be caused by several different types of bacteria, and can trigger further serious conditions, such as sepsis. jarun011/iStock