Test results find no meningitis in Durham child
Posted November 19, 2013
Durham, N.C. — A laboratory test failed to detect bacterial meningitis in cells from a Durham child who died last week, officials said Tuesday. Despite the negative test result, a spokeswoman for the Durham County Department of Public Health said the diagnosis was based on the findings of the doctors who examined the 5-year-old girl.
After her sudden death, officials at Mount Zion Christian Academy, where the child attended kindergarten, closed the school for cleaning.
Health authorities said that step was unnecessary, because bacterial meningitis is not spread through casual contact. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bacterial meningitis is transmitted through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions, such as kissing.
Nine other children who attend Mount Zion Christian Academy, at 3519 Fayetteville St., were given preventative antibiotics. By Tuesday, none had reported suspected meningitis to the county health department.
Symptoms of an infection generally develop within three to seven days of exposure and include a sudden onset of a fever, headache or stiff neck, according to the CDC. Those signs can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and an altered mental status.
In interviews at the time of the child's death, Eric Nickens, the health department's information and communications manager, noted that sometimes test results are inconclusive.