Mount Zion's pastor told ABC11 the 5-year-old girl was at school one day this week when the illness came on suddenly, and the noticeable symptoms didn't appear until it was too late. She was taken to hospital, and the hospital reportedly confirmed it was meningitis.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are two main types that are infectious, bacterial and viral, which can be spread through close contact with another person or improper hand washing.
The Durham Health Department told ABC11 Thursday that it was investigating a "probable" case of meningitis. It said the girl died on Wednesday after becoming ill on Tuesday. Nine other students who came in close contact with the girl were given antibiotics as a preventative measure, as was the girl's family. The health department said test results should confirm if meningitis was the cause of death.
Mount Zion's pastor said the school followed the proper procedures and any students who had contact with the child have been notified. And, out of abundance of caution the Pastor closed the school Thursday and brought in a professional cleaning company to wipe down everything with disinfectant. Notes were handed out to parents as they arrived to drop off their kids.
The health department said it will be safe for kids to return to school Friday.
The little girl named Leah, according to the pastor, had been at the church since she was just 3 months old. Grief counselors will be on hand to help students and staff. Her funeral is scheduled for this Saturday.
Parents have been told to contact their health care provider if anyone in their family shows symptoms of infection, including: Fever, headache, and a stiff neck.
Parents in Durham who have questions can contact the health department at (919) 560-7896 or (919) 560-7635.