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Healthcare Workers Baffled By Meningitis Cases

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WARRENTON — A deadly disease has healthcareworkers in Warren County mystified. In the past week, two people have diedfrom meningicocl meningitis.

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

The disease itself is uncommon. Between January and May of this yearthere have been just 40 cases total reported in all of North Carolina.But the bacteria which causes meningitis is common. Almost half of thepopulation 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 thedisease can be tragic.

Patrick Rogers, 2, is missing his legs and several fingers, but you'dnever know it. His mother, Sarah Rogers,

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

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

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

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

Photographer:Joe Frieda