East Chapel Hill High student dies of bacterial disease

Feb. 19, 2014 @ 08:06 PM

A 14-year-old East Chapel Hill High School student died Wednesday, apparently of a meningococcal disease.

It was unknown whether it was bacterial meningitis, said Jeff Nash, spokesman for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

The school’s principal is expected to meet with students this morning, Nash said. Also, the district will provide extra resources, including nurses, grief counselors and social workers as students mourn the loss of their fellow student, a boy in ninth grade.

Symptoms of such diseases can appear quickly or over several days, usually within 3 to 7 days after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC reports that symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache and stiff neck, as well as other warning signs, such as nausea, vomiting, confusion and increased sensitivity to light.

If caught quickly, the disease can be treated with antibiotics. It is not spread through casual contact, nor is it airborne. However, it is contagious via the patient’s saliva, so if sharing drinks or kissing, “it can be a concern,” Nash said.

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