High school senior dies of meningitis

SOLON, Ohio (AP) - An 18-year-old high school senior has died of meningitis, and authorities are investigating whether she may have passed the disease to anyone else.
Nora Kress, who attended Solon High School in this Cleveland suburb, had a severe headache Thursday night and was taken to the emergency room at Cleveland's Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital. She died there Friday.
Cuyahoga County Health Department officials said attempts will be made to determine if anyone may have shared water with Kress or was in close contact with her.
Dr. Jeff Blumer of the Cleveland hospital said Kress died of meningococcal meningitis.
"This can be very rapidly progressive. Someone could walk into the emergency room and be dead within minutes," he said.
Meningitis is an infection of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include high fever, headache, stiff neck and confusion.
Students and staff at the school say she was an excellent student and a good athlete. She planned to attend Ohio University.
Officials gave antibiotics to family members.
There are no other suspected cases connected to Kress, officials said. Most cases of meningococcal disease are isolated.
School officials on Friday posted a letter to parents and information about the disease on the school district's Web site, district spokeswoman Tammy Strom said.
"There hasn't been a panic," she said. "I think people are calling to ask questions. They just want to know about it."
In the spring of 2001, the state immunized about 4,200 people -- primarily teen-agers -- after two 15-year-olds from the Alliance area died of bacterial meningitis and a third high school student became infected.
The vaccinations took place at four schools in Stark, Mahoning and Columbiana counties within a day in an emergency effort unprecedented for Ohio, state health officials said.
Kress last attended school on Wednesday, Strom said.
She participated in a school service organization and softball and swim teams.
A senior classmate, Eric Sebor, 18, said Kress often livened up classes by joking.
He said her death will cast a shadow on graduation ceremonies next month.
"It's not going to be the same," Sebor said. "All her friends are going to miss her."
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)