Health officials: Boy, 4, died of meningitis

HOLIDAY, Fla. (AP) — A 4-year-old Pasco County boy who quickly became ill and died had contracted bacterial meningitis, health officials confirmed Thursday.

Pasco County Health Department spokeswoman Deanna Krautner said tests confirmed Amonti Saunders had the infection in his system.

All those who were in contact with the child have received antibiotics as a precaution. The day care center he attended was closed on Monday for cleaning and children who were in contact with him have been vaccinated.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, rashes and confusion.

It is unknown how the boy contracted the illness.

Rachel Edwards told the Tampa Bay Times ( her son’s head started hurting on Saturday while they were making Christmas cookies. Edwards said she didn’t have a thermometer, but his forehead was hot to the touch. She put a cold rag on his head and alternated giving him children’s Tylenol and Motrin throughout the night. The boy also complained that his legs hurt.

Around 3 a.m., Edwards said, the boy’s fever broke and he was sweating. She went back to bed. But the fever was back when he woke up at 7 a.m. He crawled out of his room because his legs were in such pain. She said her son had purple splotches on his face and arms.

“I knew something was really wrong,” she said.

She put him in a car and took him to a nearby fire station. He was loaded into an ambulance. At the hospital, nurses wheeled him into a trauma unit, where he grew listless and his tongue swelled.

Edwards said she was asked to step out of the room while doctors did chest compressions.

“I couldn’t believe what was going on,” she said. “It was so fast.”

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