MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Some students at Coral Reef Senior High students returned to class Monday morning wearing black or UM colors in honor of classmate who died last Friday from meningitis.

Christopher Valdes, 18, contracted bacterial meningitis which is not related to the nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak.

Students who knew Valdes said he was great to be around.

“He was more of an outgoing, fun guy. He always knew how to put a smile on people’s faces,” said Christel Cherubin.

Tomas Lutty said his friend Chris had been sick for several weeks.

“He was at school actually the day before he passed away,” said Lutty. “He wasn’t even complaining that he had a fever and he was shaking.”

Isabella Pellon said she work black to school to honor Valdes.

“This is something very serious, losing a classmate, whether you knew him or not,” said Isabella Pellon.

Some students, like Tia Smiley, decided to take extra precautions in the wake of Valdes’ death.

“I told my mom that I wanted to go to the doctor to get checked, so we are going today,” said Smiley.

Students have designed a t-shirt that they will be selling on campus at $15 each, in order to help the Valdes family with the funeral expenses.

Over the weekend concerned parents got a lesson on meningitis from staffers with the county’s department of health.

“The likelihood of it spreading from A to B and B to C is very unlikely,” said Coral Reef parent Steve Kronen who attended the informational session.

“They gave us a pamphlet, you saying if you start feeling something,” said Robert Cournoyer, “You know we don’t want to get over scared, but if you feel flu-like symptoms let us know.”

Health officials say schools are not locations where meningitis is easily transmitted, however parents are worried they should be on the look out for several symptoms including:
• Fever
• Headache
• Vomiting
• Stiff neck and a rash

These symptoms may appear two to ten days after an exposure, but more commonly three to four days after exposure. If the child exhibits any of those symptoms, the child should be taken to a doctor immediately.


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