Local News

Officials take precautions after student's death from meningococcal disease

Posted February 20

— Fourteen people who may have been exposed to an East Chapel Hill High School student with meningococcal disease are being treated with antibiotics, Orange County Health Department officials said Thursday.

The 14-year-old student died Wednesday, only one day after developing symptoms of meningitis, which is caused by the disease, school officials said. 

The infection is passed from person to person through oral and nasal secretions. It is not airborne. 

Orange County Health Director Colleen Bridger said Thursday that there is a three-day window of time to get people who may have been exposed antibiotics. It wasn't clear how many of those people may be students at the high school.

"We are well within that window," she said. "We are confident we are going to be able to get in touch with everyone who may have been exposed."

Bridger also said officials may never know what led to the infection in the student. Officials believe the student was exposed between Feb. 11-18. 

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Superintendent Thomas Forcella said the student visited the schools nurse on Tuesday and was advised to seek medical attention. 

Some students said Thursday that the death of their classmate has been hard.

"It's really a sad experience for the whole student body," Collin MacClennan said.

School officials sent letters to parents Wednesday warning them to be on the lookout for signs of meningococcal disease.

Signs and symptoms of include:

  • Severe fatigue
  • Severe body aches
  • Severe flu-like symptoms
  • High fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Confusion

Counselors and extra nurses were at the school Thursday to help console students.

2 Comments

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  • justingorham Feb 20, 10:59 a.m.

    Very valid point.

    Given the way the infection is passed, what are the implications for any of the fall contact... View More

    — Posted by uBnice

  • uBnice Feb 20, 10:21 a.m.

    Given the way the infection is passed, what are the implications for any of the fall contact sports such as wrestling and basketball? A snotty nosed wrestler or basketball player with the infection could be a problem! Just saying.