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Published On: Thu, Dec 13th, 2012

Glen Burnie High School junior dies of apparent meningococcal meningitis

Glen Burnie High School
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A junior at Glen Burnie High School in Anne Arundel County died Tuesday after becoming ill the day before with symptoms associated with possible bacterial (meningococcal) meningitis, according to a Baltimore Sun report Dec. 12.

The principal of Glen Burnie High School, Vickie Plitt,  sent out letters informing parents of the unfortunate news that one junior would not be returning to school, and warning them of any potential health hazards posed to students in the school.

In the letter, Plitt describes the symptoms for parents to be alert for–“an abrupt onset of chills, fever, vomiting, headache, stiff neck and rash”.

“At this point, we have no medical confirmed diagnosis. However, all the symptoms we’re learning from the Health Department were consistent with bacterial meningitis,” said Bob Mosier, with Anne Arundel County public schools.

CBS Baltimore reports that classmates have identified the student who died as Ty’Niajah Devonshire, although school officials have not released her name.

Health officials have not recommended any additional cleaning procedures for the school. The school is providing grief counselors to students that need to talk, according to a WJZ 13 news report.

Meningococcal meningitis is caused by the bacterium, Neisseria meningitidis, which causes the most severe form of bacterial meningitis. Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can also be found in the bloodstream. This particular type of meningitis is very severe and can result in death if not treated promptly. Even in cases where treatment has been given, the fatality rate is around 15%.

The symptoms of bacterial meningitis are sudden, with fever, stiff neck, body aches and headaches. As the disease progresses othersymptoms may include nausea, vomiting, photophobia and seizures. A petechial rash seen on the trunk and lower extremities, bleeding complications, multi-organ failures and shock are usually final signs. This disease has the ability to kill within hours of getting it.

Up to 10-20% of older children and young adults carry this organism in the mouth and nose, though the carriage rate will vary with age and closeness of population. The majority of people that carry this bacterium have no clinical disease. The organism is spread person to person through respiratory secretions from the nose and mouth (coughing, sneezing and kissing). Experts are unsure why some people advance to meningitis disease while many do not.

Crowded living conditions facilitate the spread of the organisms and places like military barracks and college dormitories are well documented areas of concern with this disease.

Prevention of this disease is by vaccination. Meningococcal vaccines protect against most types of meningococcal disease, but they do not prevent all cases.

If you have close contact with someone with meningococcal meningitis, see your doctor for prophylactic antibiotics.

Meningococcal meningitis is a devastating disease and is considered a medical emergency. If you have the classic symptoms, see your health care professional. It can be treated with antibiotics, but without delay.

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Stockton, Ca. fourth grade student dies from possible bacterial meningitis - The Global Dispatch says:

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