Meningitis medication calms school BALTIMORE CITY

April 09, 1993|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Staff Writer

Scores of parents took their children to Yorkwood Elementary School yesterday to receive medication following the death of a first-grader at the school from a blood infection caused by the bacterium that also causes meningitis.

By day's end, 277 doses of the oral antibiotic had been handed out, the city Health Department said.

Meanwhile, the state medical examiner's office said that laboratory tests confirmed that 6-year-old Donte Brown died of meningoccal septicemia, an infection of the bloodstream caused the bacterium Neisseria Meningitidis, which also causes meningitis.

Tests were still being conducted to determine whether the Brown child also had meningitis, a contagious and potentially deadly brain inflammation, the medical examiner's office said.

Yesterday's scene at the school in Northeast Baltimore was calm and orderly -- in marked contrast to the situation Wednesday, when a near-panic erupted at the school.

At that time, city health officials had only enough doses of the oral antibiotics to treat those who had intimate contact with the Brown boy -- members of his family and immediate classmates.

But worried parents of other pupils at the 690-student school demanded that their children be treated. Health officials maintained that it was necessary to treat only the classmates of the boy, but later gave in to the clamoring parents.

"[Wednesday] was panic day. Now, people are calmer. They realize they're going to be taken care of," said Lee Newsom, a parent volunteer whose niece is a second-grader at Yorkwood.

Dr. Peter Bielenson, the city health commissioner, said that health officials had "scrounged all over the region" to obtain enough of the medication overnight from hospitals and other health departments for anyone who wanted it.

The medication consists of four capsules of the antibiotic rifampin, which cost the Health Department about 50 cents apiece, Dr. Bielenson said.

Dr. Bielenson reiterated yesterday that treating students who might have had only casual contact with the Brown child was "not necessary from a public health standpoint."

But several parents began lining up with their children at 8:30 yesterday morning outside the school, which had been closed for spring break but opened for the second day in a row to distribute the medication.

Half a dozen maintenance workers at the apartment complex where the Brown youngster lived also showed up to receive the antibiotic.

But at least one parent did not want to endure the delays caused by the crowds and required paperwork.

"There's too much of a wait," said Faye McKay, who has two

children at the school. "I'd rather take them to their pediatrician."

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