3-year-old boy in Central Va. dies of meningitis

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A child has died from meningococcal meningitis according to the Chickahominy Health District. The 3-year-old boy’s death was reported to the health department on Wednesday.

Dr. Thomas Frank of the Chickahominy Health District told 8News that the child’s daycare center has been advised of the death but he stressed that it is way too early to assume that the child contracted meningococcal meningitis from there.

The Chickahominy Health District represents Hanover, Goochland, and New Kent counties and Charles City.

According to the World Health Organization, meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis, a serious infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. It can cause severe brain damage and is fatal in 50 percent of cases if untreated.

The bacteria are transmitted from person-to-person through droplets of respiratory or throat secretions from carriers. Close and prolonged contact – such as kissing, sneezing or coughing on someone, or living in close quarters (such as a dormitory, sharing eating or drinking utensils) with an infected person (a carrier) – facilitates the spread of the disease. The average incubation period is 4 days, but can range between 2 and 10 days.

The WHO reports that the most common symptoms are a stiff neck, high fever, sensitivity to light, confusion, headaches and vomiting. Even when the disease is diagnosed early and adequate treatment is started, 5 percent to 10 percent of patients die, typically within 24 to 48 hours after the onset of symptoms. Bacterial meningitis may result in brain damage, hearing loss or a learning disability in 10 percent to 20 percent of survivors.

A less common but even more severe (often fatal) form of meningococcal disease is meningococcal septicaemia, which is characterized by a haemorrhagic rash and rapid circulatory collapse.

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