Long Island Student Gets Sick With Bacterial Meningitis, Officials Warn Parents

School officials on Long Island are warning parents about a serious health scare.

A student at John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore has been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, the school principal announced Tuesday night.

In a letter to parents, Lorraine Poppe said the Nassau County Health Department notified her about the sick student. No other information was released about the student.

The letter said anyone who might have shared food, drink, eating utensils, smoking items or drinks or had close contact or exposure with the sick student within 10 days prior to May 3 should contact a doctor immediately.

Those who have been exposed to the sick student should receive prophylactic treatment, according to the letter.

So far, no one other than the unidentified student has contracted the potentially deadly disease, but a doctor at a nearby pediatric office says he's been hearing concern from parents. 

"We've had a couple of patients who said they were very close with him, in the car with him for an extended period of time," said Dr. Abraham Green. 

High school junior Evan Horowitz says his classmate is doing fine and expects to be released from the hospital by the end of the week, though privacy laws prevent health and school officials from confirming that. 

The meningitis B that the teen came down with isn't the type that's covered by New York's mandatory vaccination for seventh-, eighth- and 12th-graders. 

Patti Wukovits learned that through tragedy: her 17-year-old daughter Kim was killed by meningitis B in 2012, just days before her high school graduation.

"Most parents think their child is fully protected when they get vaccinated for meningitis but in fact they're really not," said Wukovits, who's started a foundation urging parents to consider both meningitis vaccines.

"I don't want another family, or even worse, another child, to go through what Kimberly went through," she said.  

Bacterial meningitis symptoms include sudden fever, headaches, a stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and a confused mental state.

If caught early, bacterial meningitis can be treated with antibiotics. But if it’s diagnosed late the outcome can be severe -- brain damage or amputation could result. 

Wukovits said of her daughter, "She was perfectly healthy one day and the next day, fighting for her life in the ICU. That's how quick the disease goes." 

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