A young Scituate woman has died of viral meningitis after getting an infection from a tongue piercing. Kate Donovan, 20, died at a Boston hospital Monday, according to family friends.Donovan was an employee at Jamie’s Pub in Scituate, Mass., where co-workers said she had gotten her tongue pierced about a month ago.

Tongue Piercing

NewsCenter 5’s Mary Saladna reported that an infection soon developed, but antibiotics did not seem to help. Donovan began suffering severe headaches and was hospitalized. “We couldn’t believe it. We knew she was in the hospital, but we didn’t know she was that sick,” said one co-worker.

Bacterial infections and meningitis can be a complication from tongue piercing according to leading sources. Meningitis is an infection of the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Symptoms of meningitis may appear suddenly and include fever, severe and constant headache, stiff neck or neck pain, nausea and vomiting and rash. Viral meningitis is not contagious. Health officials said her co-workers and customers are not at risk.