Student With Possible Meningococcal Infection Laid To Rest

Students and parents were in shock after they learned Westerville North High School student Sarah Krause died.

On Wednesday, services for the 16-year-old girl were held at Temple Israel on East Broad Street, with hundreds of friends and classmates joining her family in mourning her death.

The Franklin County Board of Health said Krause may have had a form of meningitis.  But on Wednesday, officials stressed that such an infection had not been confirmed, and such a determination was still days away.

A letter was sent out by the Franklin County Board of Health reads, in part, "According to the attending physician, the signs and symptoms were consistent with meningococcal infection.  Laboratory tests are being done at the hospital to confirm the diagnosis."

Westerville North High School students were given the letter to take home to their parents.

The Health Department says the 16-year-old girl died from "symptoms that were consistent with meningococcal infection." That could be a form of meningitis.

"Laboratory tests are being done at the hospital to confirm the diagnosis. Health officials warn that anyone who had close contact with this girl may have been exposed," reads the letter.
Krause died Monday. She was a junior at Westerville North High School.

The school says she touched many lives and was an honor roll student.

Westerville Schools spokesperson Mark Hershiser says, "Very strong academically. Very well liked, very popular, and absolutely loved school."

Betsy Krause, the teen's mother, says her daughter came down with mild flu-like symptoms on Sunday night.

She says the symptoms were not similar to meningococcal infection, which include vomiting and fever. Because of that, the family is not saying anything until the lab results are complete.

If tests done at Children's Hospital prove that this is a form of bacterial meningitis, this would be the fifth death in Franklin County this year from the disease.

This illness can either affect the fluid around the brain and spinal cord, or the entire body. Many people carry the bacteria in our nose and throat and never get sick, but for an unlucky few, the illness is swift and often deadly.

The Franklin County Health Commissioner says it is passed through saliva by kissing, sharing a can of soda, a fork, or even lipstick.

"Symptoms for all of these might include vomiting, nausea, fever, headache and stiff neck, when you're talking about the meningitis part, and for the whole body infection, it could be a rash," says Franklin County Health Commissioner Susan Tilgner.

If you have these symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately.

Tilgner says they'll give the Krause family antibiotics to keep them from getting sick.

The Franklin County Board of Health has set up a hotline for the public to call with questions. That number is (614) 462-7487.

The hotline will be open Tuesday and Wednesday until 9 p.m., and on Thursday and Friday from 8 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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