Test comes back negative in meningitis scare after student's death

Officials say lab results have come back negative, but they're still saying that's the official cause of death.
November 19, 2013 2:02:54 PM PST
Durham County Health officials announced Tuesday that lab results from a Durham 5-year-old who died from suspected bacterial meningitis last week have come back negative for the bacteria.

However, officials are still saying that is the official cause of death.

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 5-year-old girl attended kindergarten at Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham.

The little girl named Leah, according to Mount Zion's pastor, began showing symptoms at school last Tuesday. Her parents rushed her to the hospital, but she died Wednesday.

"Although the child's blood culture was negative, the diagnosis of bacterial meningitis was made based on the clinical findings and the evaluation of the physicians who treated her," said Dr. Arlene Sena, the public health department's medical director.

There are no other pending laboratory results.

So far, there have been no other reported cases of suspected meningitis at Mount Zion. Officials at the school cancelled classes last Thursday following the girl's death.

The Health Department said 14 students at the Christian academy who came in close contact with the kindergartener were given antibiotics as a preventative measure, as was the girl's family.

"We've done our investigation as far as contact exposure. If other contacts are identified, if they think they might have been exposed, they certainly can contact us, but we've done the close contact investigation at this point," said Hattie Wood, RN with Durham Health and Nursing.

Officials say their investigation is over. It is still unknown where the meningitis started.

The kindergartner had been at the church since she was just 3 months old. Funeral services were held for the girl over the weekend.

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