Local News

warren health scare

Posted June 16, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— In just one week, two women living in the same area have died of a rare disease, and that has officials in Warren County concerned.

The phones were ringing all day Monday at the Warren County Health Department. Concerned people were calling, asking if they were at risk of contracting meningococcal meningitis. According to nurse Lou Ann Elam, only 5% to 15% of these cases become fatal. She says that the deaths are no cause for panic -- they're just a reminder to be careful.

Last week, 17-year-old Aretha Fedee died from the rare affliction. Saturday, 21-year-old Tamara Suswell died of the same condition. However, county health officials believe that the deaths are unrelated.

Sadly, Suswell was seven months pregnant when she died. Her unborn baby also died. Fedee had just given birth when she died last week. However, health officials have established no link between pregnancy and meningitis.

Meningococcal meningitis is spread only through direct contact with saliva or nasal secretions. Kissing, sharing eating utensils, and sharing food are common ways of transmitting the disease.

Once infected, symptoms include a sudden fever, vomiting, intense headaches, and a stiff or aching neck. If you experience these symptoms, or if you had contact with either victim recently, the Warren County Health Department wants to speak with you. Their telephone number is (919) 257-1185.