Local News

Cumberland Student Dies From Meningitis

Posted March 19, 2003

— A health warning has been issued Wednesday in Cumberland County.

Family members say Justin Fisher, a sixth-grader at Mac Williams Middle School, woke up Monday feeling ill. His grandparents took him to the doctor who thought he had the flu or chicken pox. The doctor sent him home with an antibiotic, but it did not help him.

Fisher died Tuesday evening at UNC Hospitals from

meningococcal meningitis

.

The Health Department is treating Fisher's parents and three other students who had close contact with him.

Symptoms associated with meningitis include headaches, nausea and vomiting.

A letter sent home with Justin's classmates warned parents about the symptoms of meningitis. The letter went out Tuesday before everyone knew Justin had passed away. When parents learned about his death, some took their children to their family doctors first thing in the morning. Others came to the school for reassurance.

"We don't want panic, but we also want them to be aware of what the symptoms are," principal Ernie Freeman said. "We made sure that they understood about close contact versus casual contact."

"It is not a good way for anybody to distinguish those symptoms from the flu as opposed to meningococcal infection," county medical director Dr. Paul Adholla said. "We urge anybody who develops symptoms that might resemble the flu in the next few days that they receive medical attention and a check-up."

Fisher just turned 13 on Monday. Because he was so sick and ended up in the emergency room, family members say they never got to celebrate his birthday.

"That's what they came home to last night was the birthday cake on the table," said Vicki Fisher, Justin's grand aunt.

"He's having a birthday party up in heaven. I could probably go there one day and see him," said Gerald Davis, Fisher's friend.

Freeman described Fisher as a well-rounded student who was a great storyteller.

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