Store Employee's Death Raises Concerns About Meningitis

ELYRIA, Ohio (AP) - A 25-year-old cashier at a Wal-Mart died of suspected meningitis, triggering more than 100 hospital emergency room visits by worried store employees.

Tamika Mucha died Saturday at Community Health Partners Hospital in Lorain, where she was brought from home by ambulance. The hospital reported Mucha's death to public health officials as a possible case of bacterial meningitis, an infection in the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Dr. Paul Matus, the Lorain County coroner, said Mucha died after three to four days of illness. The results of laboratory tests, needed to determine if Mucha died from meningitis, are expected in a few days, he said.

"It's a presumptive diagnosis," Matus said. "That's not conclusive at all."

The nursing supervisor at Community Health Partners said hospital staff gave antibiotics to 131 people, including those who were worried about being exposed even though they had no close contact with Mucha.

"We're recommending that close personal contacts with this woman be considered for treatment," said Terry Tomaszewski, Lorain health commissioner.

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