13-year-old cheerleader's mysterious death was caused by strep: family

A 13-year-old Kentucky cheerleader who suddenly died after complaining of feeling ill at a February competition had suffered from a strep infection, her parents say.

"Apparently, an underlying strep infection overwhelmed her immune system with little or no warning, and catastrophic results," the family of Lilliana Schalck said in a statement obtained by ABC News. "We wouldn't wish this nightmare on anyone."

Schalck, an 8th-grade student at Highlands Middle School in Fort Thomas, Ky., was preparing to perform at a cheer competition in Columbus, Ohio, on Feb. 23 when she told her teammates she felt weak and was experiencing a tingling sensation in her limbs.

The girl's father, Dan Schalck, told WCPO that he imagined his daughter may have been suffering from dehydration or even anxiety about the upcoming performance.  

Schalck's team called an ambulance and, upon arrival at a nearby hospital, she was quickly moved from the emergency room to the intensive care unit. Her condition rapidly deteriorated and she died about two hours after she was admitted to the hospital.

According to the CDCStreptococcus bacteria can cause many different infections. While some are common, relatively minor infections like strep throat, others are less common and can be serious or even deadly.

Following the results of Schalck's autopsy, her family members said they hoped that by speaking out about her cause of death, they "might help prevent a similar outcome for someone else."

"Lilliana would surely help if she could, and this is just an extension of that spirit," they said.

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