4th-Grader Dies of Bacterial Meningitis in Keller

Child hospitalized with pneumococcal meningitis, officials said

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    Eric Jackson, a fourth grade student at Park Glen Elementary in Keller, had been hospitalized since Monday and died Wednesday morning of meningitis. (Published Wednesday, Nov 9, 2011)

    An elementary student from the Keller Independent School District has died of bacterial meningitis, according to school officials.

    Eric Jackson, who was in the fourth grade at Park Glen Elementary, had been hospitalized since Monday and died Wednesday morning, according to the district.

    Keller Fourth-Grader Dies of Bacterial Meningitis

    [DFW] Keller Fourth-Grader Dies of Bacterial Meningitis
    Eric Jackson, a fourth grade student at Park Glen Elementary in Keller, had been hospitalized since Monday and died Wednesday morning of meningitis. (Published Wednesday, Nov 9, 2011)

    The child had been diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis by doctors on Tuesday, the district said.  Based on the advice of the Tarrant County Health Department, officials believe there is no further risk of contamination.

    "Due to some parents concerns that other children may be at risk, the hospital contacted Keller ISD to inform us that this form of meningitis is not contagious, and there is no need for other children on the campus to be tested. However, if parents still have concerns, they should seek the advice of their pediatrician," Keller ISD said in a news release Wednesday.

    Parents at Park Glen Elementary were shocked by the news.

    "The concept of a child dying is just horrifying. It's scary. It's going to happen to everybody, but kids this age, just pulls at your heart strings that much more," said parent Kat Green.

    "It's very sad, and I really feel for the family. I was very concerned because we didn't know what it was. We got a letter yesterday that just said somebody was very ill," said parent Stephanie Leon.

    Pastor Terry Kizer of Alliance Baptist Church, say the family says Eric was a healthy, vibrant boy before he started having a severe headache and stiff neck last Thursday.

    Eric had been diagnosed with strep throat, which doctors say can mask the more serious disease, pneumococcal meningitis, according to Kizer.

    According to a statement published on their website, the Meningitis Research Foundation said approximately half of pre-school children carry pneumococcal bacteria in the back of their nose and throat and that it rarely causes the child to get sick.

    "Carriage of the bacteria is completely harmless most of the time. However, in a susceptible person, these bacteria can cause a wide range of diseases, from fairly minor bronchitis and ear and sinus infections to life-threatening pneumonia, meningitis, and less frequently septicaemia. Sometimes pneumococcal meningitis can develop from milder forms of the infection, such as earache," the foundation said.

    Bacterial meningitis is spread through saliva and mucous. Kissing, sharing drinks and, potentially, being sneezed or coughed on are common causes for spreading the bacteria. Simply breathing the same air as a contaminated person cannot spread meningitis.

    Symptoms of meningitis include headache, fever, neck stiffness and confusion. 
    Quick diagnosis of meningitis can mean the difference between life and death, so if children experience those symptoms, especially the combination of them, parents need to seek medical attention for the kids.

    NBC 5's Frank Heinz, Ben Russell, and Julie Tam contributed to this report.