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Virus Mysteriously Kills 8-Year-Old Boy

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CARY, N.C. — Drew Howard filled his eight years with life. He was a leader, a rough-and-tumble risk-taker who was made stronger by a kind heart.

"My son Drew had compassion," said Drew's mother, Donna Howard.

A little over a week ago, Drew was an active third-grader at Grace Christian School in Raleigh. After he mysteriously fell ill from an unknown virus, doctors at WakeMed worked desperately to save him.

Drew died Thursday night, just hours short of his ninth birthday. No one else at the school has gotten sick.

"Should parents or students at Grace have any public health concerns? At this point, absolutely not," said Dr. David Damsker of the Wake County Health Department

Damsker said he sees no communicable risk. He pointed out that very common viruses can lead to extremely rare reactions.

"If 1,000 kids are infected with some kind of virus, 999 of them would do great, and you may have one child who has a bad reaction to it," said Damsker.

The Howards have no answers for why Drew was that one. They do have family, friends, and their faith, and they see two options for their future.

"We can become bitter and destroy ourselves, or we can say without understanding, somehow Drew's life can have a greater impact ending at 9," said Donna Howard.

Grace Christian School will be closed Monday for Drew's funeral. The church his family attends, First Assembly of God in Raleigh, is collecting ministry donations in Drew's name.


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