Nova Scotia

Sackville High student dies after meningitis diagnosis

A Grade 10 student at Sackville High School has died after being diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis, school officials said Monday.

'Our staff and students are deeply saddened by his death,' says school statement

The flag outside Sackville High School was lowered to half-mast on Monday after a Grade 10 student, who was diagnosed with meningitis, died. (CBC)

A Grade 10 student at Sackville High School has died after being diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis, school officials said Monday.

The school posted a notice to students and parents on its website and said the male student died Monday morning.

"Our staff and students are deeply saddened by his death, and we wish to express our deepest sympathy and condolences to the family," said a statement from John Miller, the principal of the school.

"Our school counsellors and school psychologist along with other qualified school board staff will be available to the students today and in the coming days as needed."

The Sackville High School Kingfishers hockey team posted their condolences to the teenager's family via Twitter, as did the Citadel High School men's hockey team and Brett Crossley, a player with the Halifax Mooseheads.

A spokesperson with the Capital District Health Authority said Monday that 130 people were interviewed after the student was diagnosed with meningitis earlier this month. Doctors recommended antibiotics for 50 people, said the health authority.

0 to 3 cases a year

Robin Taylor, the medical officer of health for the Capital District Health Authority, said when public health officials learn of a severe communicable disease, they trace who may have been directly exposed to the infection, and recommend antibiotics to those people.

"To be exposed, you have to have had come into contact with saliva from the person infected. That's kissing, sharing a water bottle, sharing drinks, perhaps sharing a cigarette or some food," she said.

Robin Taylor said about 130 people have been contacted so far. (CBC)

The trace period goes back a week before the person showed symptoms of the disease.

"This type of germ is housed or carried by a segment of our population who show no symptoms," she said. "Then, for some reason we don't know, somebody becomes exposed to it and becomes very ill, very quickly."

Taylor said Nova Scotia sees from none to three cases a year.

"That gives you an idea of how rare it is," she said.

She said the serious symptoms of the disease — such as decreased alertness, high fever and stiff neck — should precipitate medical treatment anyway. 

"In this particular circumstance, we know who has been exposed and we're in contact with them," she said. "The risk to the wider community is no more than it would have been three weeks ago, or it would be in a couple of months."

Doug Hadley, a spokesman for the Halifax Regional School Board, said the school's exams would be held this week as scheduled.

"The school will work with students and their families to look at alternate arrangements to write at a different time if they don't feel they can write," he added.

They also have professional help available for students who need to talk about the death.


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