HOLLYWOOD (CBS4) – On the last day of school, parents at a Hollywood Montessori academy were warned to be on the look out for symptoms of meningitis in their children after officials suspect it caused a first-grader’s death.

The Broward School District received word of the suspected case of bacterial meningitis on Thursday. Officials say the boy died Wednesday. The Broward School District did not identify the student.

It was enough to leave parents with more questions than answers.

“I”m a little scared because I’m wondering how he got it,” said parent Ceila Astacio. “What’s going on? What would cause a child to catch it and is it spreading?”

“All of the close contacts have been notified and all appropriate actions have been taken according to CDC recommendations,” said Broward Health Department Director Dr. Paula Thaqi. “There is no additional risk to the general public as a result of this case.”

All total this year, there have been 13 cases of meningitis reported to the Broward County Health Department. The disease is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. It can be bacterial or viral, with viral bein less severe.

“It’s spread person to person, but not effectively,” said epidemiologist Dr. John Livengood. “It’s mainly boyfriend, girlfriend, or close contact from sharing eating utensils and things of that nature.”

Dr. Livengood said that the meningitis vaccine is usually recommended for 11 to 12 year olds; however he expects over the next few years the CDC will broaden those recommendations.

Experts urged parents to watch for high fever, chills, intense headaches, nausea and other flu-like symptoms.

The family of the seven-year-old has asked for privacy.

The health department said they expect confirmation of the diagnosis by Monday.


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