New Kent boy dies from meningitis; daycare sends letter home

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NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. – A child has died from meningitis in the Chickahominy Health District, according to the district health director.

Dr. Thomas Franck said that they received notification of the child’s death on Wednesday, August 12.

The child, who attended a New Kent child care center, caught meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial meningitis which Franck said is very rare. It is unclear where the child contracted the infection.

CBS 6 has learned the child, identified by family as three year old Riley Crowell, attended For Kids Only Day Care in Quinton.

Family members tell CBS 6 Riley contracted severe symptoms on Monday and by Wednesday he had died.

Although it is believed to be an isolated case, letters have been sent out to parents of the daycare that the child attended.

Letters tell parents to be on the lookout for symptoms and to take preventive measures as instructed by your physician if need be.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bacterial meningitis is severe, and while most people recover, it can cause serious complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss, or learning disabilities. The risks are higher for infants and children.

It can spread if there is close or long contact with a sick person in the same household or daycare center, or if they had direct contact with a sick patient's saliva or mucus, according to the CDC.

It is not as contagious as viruses that cause the common cold or flu, and can’t be spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.

Meningitis infection may show up in a person by a sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. It will often have other symptoms, such as

  • Nausea,
  • Vomiting,
  • Increased sensitivity to light (photophobia), and
  • Altered mental status (confusion).

In newborns and infants, the classic meningitis symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be absent or difficult to notice. The infant may appear to be slow or inactive (lack of alertness), irritable, vomiting or feeding poorly. In young infants, doctors may look for a bulging fontanelle (soft spot on infant’s head) or abnormal reflexes, which can also be signs of meningitis. If you think your infant has any of these symptoms, call the doctor or clinic right away.

The symptoms of bacterial meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. Typically they develop within 3-7 days after exposure.

Anyone with the symptoms who believes they have meningitis is urged to seek immediate help.

The Chickahominy Health District serves New Kent, Hanover, Charles City and Goochland.

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