A 15-year-old student at Randallstown High School has died of bacterial meningitis, Baltimore County school officials said yesterday.
Christina "Tina" Lennon, a sophomore honor student and member of the junior varsity volleyball and softball teams, contracted the disease about a week ago. She died Tuesday, said Charles A. Herndon, spokesman for the school system.
"We were all very hopeful because she was breathing on her own," said an aunt who visited Christina and her mother at Sinai Hospital on Sunday and asked that her name not be used. "I think things turned for the worst on Monday."
Thirteen people in Maryland -- three of them students in the Baltimore County public schools -- have contracted bacterial meningitis this year, according to state health officials.
At Randallstown High, a school of 1,500 students in the northwest section of the county, students and teachers were subdued yesterday. Friends of Christina's described her as studious and cheerful -- someone who helped those who were behind in a subject or feeling blue.
"She was very, very smart," said Teneill Wilson, 16, a classmate and friend.
Christina's aunt said the girl wanted to go to school to be a chef and could make a tasty apple crumble pie.
In a letter sent to students' homes, Randallstown Principal Eric A. Carlton reassured parents that bacterial meningitis is not a highly contagious disease. It is often spread by saliva on a shared glass or cigarette, or by airborne droplets released by sneezing or coughing. Symptoms include fever, severe headache, stiff neck, rash, nausea and fatigue. The disease is readily cured with antibiotics -- if they are given early.
Members of a traumatic-loss team were at the high school early yesterday to meet with students and teachers who might need counseling, Herndon said. Team members will visit the school again today.
Two weeks ago, administrators at Milford Mill Academy announced that an 11th-grader was ill with the disease. Last week, doctors diagnosed the disease in a fifth-grade teacher at Warren Elementary School in Cockeysville.
The disease has killed one other person in the state this year. A 20-year-old Mount Airy woman who was a junior at Towson University died Jan. 11, five hours after being admitted to a hospital with severe, flu-like symptoms.