Student killed by bacterial meningitis

Alexandra Nicolas

Reports on the autopsy of baseball player Danny Sickles have confirmed he died of bacterial meningitis.

Initial reports stated that the cause of Sickles death was unknown, possibly being attributed to low electrolyte levels due to the flu.

“The pathologist didn’t see the problems you normally see with meningitis,” said Jasper Country Coroner Jerry Neil.

Later examination of the brain and spinal cord revealed Sickles had died from Neisseria meningitides, the most dangerous strain of meningitis, as it progresses quickly and is contagious through close contact. (i.e. prolonged contact or the exchange of bodily fluid)

Dan Pekarek of the Joplin Health Department said that just being in the same room with an infected person does not count as personal contact and those who had classes with him need not worry.

Currently 15-20 Missouri Southern students are being treated as a precaution.

Symptoms of meningitis include fever, vomiting stiffness of the neck and back and sensitivity to light. As the disease progresses victims can have seizures or go into a coma.

The disease is most common among children, infants and the elderly but those living in close quarters with others, such as in a college residence hall should be vaccinated against it.

“Some people can recover from it but when you get the bad kind usually you have a fatality,” Neil said.

While the corners office had doubts about Sickles cause of death Neil said is was his understanding that University President Bruce Speck specifically requested a check for meningitis.

“Kudos to the president, he was thinking in the right direction,” Neil said. “He made a better call with the pathology than we did, at least until the second day.”

If diagnosed early, highly effective antibiotics can be administered, however meningitis can progress from flu like symptoms to death in as little as one to two days.

Testing for meningitis requires a spinal tap, however one can be vaccinated against several types of the disease.