Eaglecrest High School, a school in the Denver area, closed earlier this week after one of its teachers died from suspected bacterial meningitis.
According to officials, the high school canceled all of its Tuesday night activities, including athletics, and Wednesday classes out of an abundance of caution, after one of their teachers Madelaine Schmidt died from suspected bacterial meningitis.
The local health department reported that Madelaine Schmidt, 24, had symptoms consistent with the rare illness including high fever, stiff neck, vomiting, nausea, and a dark purple rash. The department is currently sharing information and working together with the local school district to perform contact tracing, according to Anders Nelson, the country’s public information officer.
Lauren Snell, the school’s spokesperson, stated that classes resumed on Thursday, along with activities and athletics events. While no other teachers or students have reported experiencing symptoms, the Integrated Learning Center (ILC) program will remain closed until next week. It’s currently unknown whether or not her death was an isolated case or part of a more significant outbreak.
Meningitis, also known as meningococcal disease, is caused by bacteria. It is referred to as meningitis when it infects the spinal cord and linings of the brain. It’s typically spread through throat and respiratory secretions such as saliva. While it’s not as contagious as the common flu, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has emphasized that it can be spread through close contact.
Two Additional Death In the Same District
Another staff member, who taught at the same school as Schmidt, also died last weekend, according to the Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office. Judith Geoffroy, 63, was a paraprofessional and also worked in the Integrated Learning Center, however, her official cause of death has not yet been released.
According to Kelly Lear, a pathologist at the country coroner’s office, the bodies of both Schmidt and Geoffroy will undergo additional testing over the next days, which will test for the presence or absence of the bacterial infection.
A third staff member, Scott Nash, who worked in the same school district also died on the same weekend, though he taught at a different school. However, it has since been confirmed that his case is not related to bacterial meningitis.
How is Bacterial Meningitis Treated?
Bacterial meningitis is typically treated with strong antibiotics. For the best outcomes, treatment must be started as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the illness, other treatments such as low blood pressure medications or breathing supports may also be necessary, in addition to surgery to remove dead skin and tissue.
According to the CDC, for every 100 people who are diagnosed with the condition, up to 15 will die. 1 in 5 who recover will go on to suffer long-term complications such as deafness, brain damage, and loss of limbs.