Local News

Raleigh Day Care Reopens After Meningitis Scare

Posted December 4, 2001 7:50 a.m. EST

— A Raleigh day care center has reopened after a two-year-old boy who attended the center died from

meningococal meningitis


The boy died Thursday afternoon, but health officials said that it was Friday before doctors knew he had meningitis. It is still not clear where he contracted it.

The boy spent time at KidWorks, a day care center for WakeMed employees. Health professionals said that their main concern was other children or day care workers who spent a lot of time around the infected toddler.

Health department officials said that the case appears to be an isolated incident. They also said that the bacterial strain is not highly contagious, and that there was no cause for the public to panic.

"Meningitis is a condition that takes prolonged exposure to the person who is infected. So for that reason, we're only concerned for the people who have had that kind of exposure at the facility," said Gibbie Harris of the Wake County Health Department.

Over the weekend, some day care students, their parents and workers were given antibiotics as a precaution. Some of the students were given Rifampin; some adults were given Cipro. The day care center was also decontaminated with bleach over the weekend.

Concerned parents can also talk to their child's pediatrician about a vaccine that is available for some strains of meningococcal meningitis.

"Everybody would be concerned, but I think they've taken all the steps they need to take. I think under all the circumstances you feel about as good as you can feel," said parent Larry Ellsworth.

About 250 children attend KidsWorks, but only about 65 percent of those students returned on Monday.

The health department stressed that the meningitis bacteria only lives for a few hours on any surface.

A one-year-old girl who also attended the center was hospitalized and tested for a supected case of meningitis. Her results came back negative.

Sunday, concerned parents brought their 10-month-old in for tests. Initial results came back negative.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the tissues which cover the brain and spinal cord. Its symptoms include fever, vomiting, and severe headache.

Young children may also have blotchy skin, refuse to eat, or have a stiff body with very jerky movements. Any adults or children showing signs of the symptoms should contact their doctor.