Meningitis may have caused child’s death

Nov. 14, 2013 @ 02:00 PM

A 5-year old girl, a student at Mount Zion Christian Academy, died Wednesday from what is believed to be bacterial meningitis.

Durham County Health Department officials said Thursday that bacterial meningitis is the probable cause of death, but has not yet confirmed that through laboratory tests.

“We’re working on those lab results and the investigation will continue,” said Eric Nickens, the information and communications manager for the health department.

Nickens said it will take at least a week to get test results.

Nine other Mt. Zion students who may have been in close contact with the girl received preventive antibiotics.

The girl’s parents also received antibiotics, Nickens said.

Symptoms for bacterial meningitis can include high fever, nausea, vomiting, severe headache, neck stiffness and skin rash.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bacterial meningitis is contagious, spread through the exchange of “respiratory and throat secretions.”

Kissing, for example, is one way the bacteria spread.

Donald Fozard Sr., pastor of Mount Zion Christian Academy, closed the school on Thursday to disinfect the building, but was not required by the health department to do so.

When reached by phone, Fozard referred all questions to the health department.

The girl came down with a high fever while at school on Tuesday.

Nickens said she died at a local hospital Wednesday morning.

That’s also when the Mt. Zion school community was told about her death.

Nickens said the girl’s death from bacterial meningitis is the first in 2013 and in recent memory.

“They do come up from time-to-time, but to my knowledge, this is the first of 2013,” he said.

Nationally, about 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis, with about 500 deaths, were reported between 2003 and 2007, the most recent statistics available from the CDC.