August 25, 2009
Health officials say a 6-year-old Vicksburg girl died of bacterial meningitis.
Vshanti Washington died early Sunday morning at Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson, Warren County Coroner Doug Huskey said. Washington was a 1st grade student at Dana Road Elementary School, school officials said.
Washington's family said she woke up Friday morning with cold-like symptoms, so her grandmother took her to the doctor. While in the doctor's office, Washington had a seizure and hit her head.
She was taken to River Region Medical Center in Vicksburg, Huskey said. The child was then transferred to Blair E. Batson where she died Sunday, he said. An autopsy performed Monday confirmed that she died of bacterial meningitis, Huskey said.
"We don't want her to be reduced to just an infectious disease," Washington' s aunt, Valtreasa Cook, said. "We want people to know that she was a little girl -- a little happy girl and she had a family that loved her."
Vicksburg-Warren School District officials learned of the child's death
Monday night. They have identified six children who came in close contact with the girl and have supplied those children with antibiotics, school officials said. The children were at a higher risk of contracting the virus because they were within three feet of the girl for at least three hours, health officials said.
School officials were also contacting the parents of other children who may have come in contact with the girl. They are giving the parents the option of receiving the antibiotic, Refampin, which will be paid for by the health department, officials said.
Several local pediatricians and nurses were at the school Tuesday to answer questions from parents and students.
The most common symptoms of meningitis are headache and neck stiffness associated with fever, confusion or altered consciousness, vomiting, and an inability to tolerate light or loud noises. Sometimes, especially in small children, only nonspecific symptoms may be present, such as irritability and drowsiness.
Health officials said bacterial meningitis is contagious, but isn't usually
fatal. About 75 percent of those diagnosed with the virus fully recover.
However, patients may suffer central nervous system problems.