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The family of a cheerleader who collapsed and died during a competition in February has revealed the cause of their daughter’s death. 

According to the Cincinnati Fox affiliate, Lilliana Schalck had underlying strep. The family didn’t know about the condition and the last time Schalck had strep was four to six years ago.

The family released a statement, which reads in part: “Apparently an underlying strep infection overwhelmed her immune system with little or no warning, and (resulted in) catastrophic results.”

The underlying strep infection led to sepsis — an extremely dangerous condition also called 'blood poisoning.'

Dr. Riham Alwan at the Christ Hospital called strep leading to sepsis the “silent killer.”

“It moves very, very, very, very fast. This used to be something nobody knew about," said Alwan.

Lilliana’s father thought his daughter was fine until her coach approached him at a competition and expressed his concerns.

“She’s kinda out of sorts, things definitely not normal, so we call a life squad took her to the ER and things quickly degraded," he said. “We went from waiting for her to perform at 5:50 to holding her hand and they announced that she had passed at 7:40.”

According to the CDC, common symptoms of sepsis include confusion or disorientation, shortness of breath, high heart rate, fever or shivering, extreme pain or discomfort, clammy or sweaty skin. 

The family’s full statement on the matter follows: 

We would first like to express our utmost appreciation for the outpouring of love and support from her friends, teachers, coaches, and administrators at Highlands Middle and High Schools, her extended family at Premier Athletics, plus the entire cheer community across this whole country, and most of all the good people of Fort Thomas. We are so thankful, and honestly overwhelmed, by those that have reached out and continue to find new ways to support Lilliana's memory on an almost daily basis. 

Apparently, an underlying Strep infection overwhelmed her immune system with little or no warning, and catastrophic results. We knew this report was coming and honestly have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand it changes nothing for us. But, on the other hand, we wouldn't wish this nightmare on anyone and maybe this report 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. 

We are still in shock as we navigate through the most difficult time imaginable-we find new 'Firsts' and 'Lasts' every day. We are forever heartbroken and appreciate the respect we have been given so far, and ask that to continue as we focus on her life and legacy, as well as our life without her - however unwelcome it is.

Sincerely,

The Schalck Family

 

Andy Berg is Executive Editor of Athletic Business.