Antibiotics urged in wake of girl’s death


Herald Writer

Some 45 classmates and child care workers of an Arlington preschooler who died of an apparent bacterial infection last week should start taking antibiotics, the Snohomish Health District said Tuesday.

The recommendation reverses a decision made by the countywide health agency Friday.

Health district officials initially feared the 4-year-old girl died of meningococcal meningitis, an infection of the lining of the brain that can sometimes be deadly. Its symptoms include high fever, a stiff neck, rash, bad headaches, and, in small children, sometimes inconsolable crying.

Initial test results seemed to count out that disease. But subsequent tests have been inconclusive, said Dr. Jo Hofmann, director of communicable disease control for the health district.

Since it can’t be eliminated as the cause of the child’s death, the countywide health agency Tuesday recommended that classmates take the antibiotics to try to stem any spread of bacterial infection, the initial suggestion made by the health district Friday.

Packets containing four antibiotics to be taken over a 48-hour period are being provided free by the health district to classmates and child care workers of the young girl, Hofmann said.

The medication is available at the Arlington Pharmacy, 540 West Ave. Health district employees tried to contact everyone who needs the medication, but were unable to reach some families who didn’t have phones, she said. Health workers will try to talk to those individuals today, Wbut the medicine will be available for pickup at the pharmacy under their names, Hofmann said.

The actions come following the abrupt death of a 4-year-old who last Wednesday attended preschool and participated in a class field trip to a local fire station.

She attended the Arlington School District’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, housed in a building near Arlington High School.

The youngster was taken to Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington by her mother Thursday afternoon and later died there.

The change in the health district’s medication recommendation follows inconclusive test results. Health officials had hoped the tests would determine what type of bacteria the youngster had contracted.

In fact, one blood test showed none of the suspected bacteria was present, Hoffman said. The meningococcal bacteria the youngster is suspected of contracting causes meningitis and blood infections. None of her classmates are thought to have contracted the same bacterial infection, Hoffman said.

Parents whose children attended school with the youngster and who have questions about Tuesday’s recommendations should call the health district at 425-339-5225 and ask for a communicable disease nurse.

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