Meningitis Kills 12-Year-Old Rockland County Girl; What Are The Meningitis Symptoms?

By iScienceTimes Staff on April 2, 2013 10:54 AM EDT

meningitis
A 12-year-old girl died suddenly from a deadly and rare form of meningitis. In October 2012, a fungus, pictured here, was identified by the U.S. CDC as the pathogen responsible for almost all cases and fatalities in the New England Compounding Center meningitis outbreak. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Chrissy Gabriel, a 6th grader in Rockland County, New York, died suddenly over the weekend from a rare case of bacterial meningitis. The 12-year-old girl fell ill last week in Garnerville, roughly 40 miles north of New York City. The New York Daily News reports that dozens of others who came in close contact with Grabriel fear they've been exposed, and could succumb to the same deadly meningitis because of the highly contagious nature of the disease.

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"People can carry the disease in their body and transmit it without knowing they have it," Rockland Commissioner of Health Kathleen Henry told the New York Daily News.

According to the paper, 33 students, teachers and family members who had close contact with Gabriel are fearful that they, too, may have the deadly meningitis, which is a contagion spread from person to person through physical contact like kissing. Health officials warn that those who were around Gabriel over the past few weeks could have been exposed and, as a preventative measure, should take antibiotics.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the fluid around the brain and spinal cord and is usually caused by either a viral or bacterial infection. Symptoms of meningitis can be mild or dangerous and include fever, severe headache, neck pain, vomiting and light sensitivity, among others. Symptoms crop up between three and seven days after exposure. Doctors recommend that children 11 or 12 years get the meningococcal vaccine, with a booster shot needed at age 16.

Each year, about 4,100 people in the U.S. become infected with meningitis, including 500 deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while most people recover from bacterial meningitis, it also can cause serious complications like brain damage and hearing loss.

Earlier this year, a deadly meningitis strain also inflicted a young Orange County, California teenager, and caused her to lose all four of her limbs. Fox reported that both of 18-year-old Kaitlin Dobrow's arms and legs were amputated as part of a procedure that ultimately saved her life.

The teen had woken up one morning with a headache and flu-like symptoms, and was hospitalized shortly afterwards. Doctors at UC Irvine's medical center determined that Dobrow had a meningococcal infection. Dr. Nicole Bernal, who treated Dobrow, told KTTV that the form of meningitis that claimed Dobrow's limbs develops in about five percent of the cases of people that come down with the infection.

In Oct. 2012, a meningitis outbreak in New England claimed the lives of 51 people and infected 679 others. The infection spanned 20 states and was caused by a fungus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration identified fungal contamination of vials of a number of different kinds of medication that were causing the infections.

Read more from iScience Times:

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