Local News

Healthcare Workers Baffled By Meningitis Cases

Posted June 17, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— A deadly disease has healthcare workers in Warren County mystified. In the past week, two people have died from meningicocl meningitis.

No one's sure whether the two deaths are related, but as you might expect, many people are concerned about possible risks.

The disease itself is uncommon. Between January and May of this year there have been just 40 cases total reported in all of North Carolina. But the bacteria which causes meningitis is common. Almost half of the population carries it.

No one knows why, but some people are immune to the bacteria, while others are very vulnerable. For the latter, the consequences of the disease can be tragic.

Patrick Rogers, 2, is missing his legs and several fingers, but you'd never know it. His mother, Sarah Rogers,

Patrick was diagnosed with meningococcemia, a deadly type of bacterial meningitis in November. He survived with the help of parents who refused to give up. Rogers says he can do all the important things.

Dr. J.N. MacCormack says scientists don't really know why so few people become ill with the disease. State scientists are trying to figure out if the two fatal cases of meningitis in Warren County are related. But Dr. MacCormack says because the bacteria is widespread, there's no real way to prevent it. Scientists say the key to survival is early diagnosis.

Patrick Rogers is alive, in large part, because his mother sought care right away. She says if you feel something is wrong, head for the emergency room.

Because meningitis can kill in just a few hours, it is critical to get to a hospital if you experience symptoms. The state is sending blood samples from the two Warren County victims to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta for a more in depth analysis. As far as their current research has shown, the two women had no connection.

Photographer:Joe Frieda