Portland student, 17, dies of suspected meningitis

Portland student, 17, dies of suspected meningitis

Portland student, 17, dies of suspected meningitis

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by Jeff Thompson, KGW Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on March 5, 2014 at 10:46 AM

PORTLAND -- A 17-year-old Central Catholic High School student has died of apparent meningococcal disease.

According to a family statement, Jake Parkhurst died from the fast-paced illness at about 7 p.m. Tuesday. Just two days earlier he sent out a tweet, joking about being sick. 

On Tuesday, Central Catholic sent out a bulletin saying one of its students was in critical condition and meningitis was likely the cause.

"It is important to note that you do not need to take any action unless you have been contacted by the Health Department," the statement reads. "Health care professionals are determining who in our population might be at an elevated risk of contracting the disease, and will be contacting those individuals to implement preventative measures."

The school also said counselors were on hand Wednesday to talk with students affected by the news.

"As for our students, we are providing safe spaces for them to grieve, our chapel currently, and have counselors and administrators in the classes the student would have attended today," principal John Garrow told KGW Wednesday morning. "We will celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass today as scheduled so will gather as a community in prayer."

Multnomah County deputy health officer Dr. Paul Lewis said about 40 people in Oregon are infected with meningitis each year and the death rate is less than 15 percent.

He also said the disease is contagious, but only to household members and those in intimate contact.

"We recommend that this small group of individuals take a single dose of antibiotics to reduce their risk of becoming ill; there is no value in more extensive distribution of antibiotics to, for example, the entire school community," he said.

Click for more on meningitis from the Centers for Disease Control

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