Students seek advice from health department after Arundel teen-ager dies of meningitis

April 13, 1999|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

About three dozen Annapolis High School students -- concerned they have been exposed to bacterial meningitis that killed their classmate over the weekend -- sought advice from nurses in the school yesterday who were searching for anyone who had close contact with the girl.

Cara Margaret Petrini, a junior, died of the disease at 6: 45 a.m. Saturday at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. As health department nurses interviewed students and counselors comforted grieving students, school officials were annoyed and wondering why the health department had not notified them Friday when it became apparent the teen-ager had the disease.

Dr. Katherine Farrell of the Anne Arundel County Health Department said the department notified the school nurse about 1: 30 p.m. Friday. But since the tests were preliminary, the nurse was not required by the health department to notify school officials or Principal Joyce Smith, said Gene Saderholm, county health department program director for school health services.

Health department officials began interviewing Petrini's parents and friends Friday to determine where she had been and who could have been exposed to the disease, which is spread through direct saliva contact.

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