October 8, 2002 at 4:50 PM EST - Updated July 12 at 4:27 AM
AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A 17-year-old high school football and track standout who died Saturday had a rare bacterial infection, a doctor said.
Julian Long had necrotizing fasciitis, known as flesh-eating bacteria, when he was admitted to Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron, Dr. Blaise Congeni, director of the hospital's infectious-disease unit, said Monday.
He was later transferred from that hospital to Akron General Medical Center, where he died.
The bacteria has the "flesh-eating" nickname because it kills soft tissue, often deep below the skin.
Julian (to the extreme right in photo, above) was one of 43 students in Firestone High School's selective program in marketing education, which emphasizes leadership skills and the study of advertising, business and financing, a school official said.
Raised by Jehovah's Witnesses, his faith and his Kingdom Hall congregation sustained Julian in all his endeavors, said Lunzy Armstrong, Julian's grandfather and legal guardian.
"We are sad, but we do take comfort knowing that we will see him again," he said.
Congeni said that fewer than 1,500 Americans get diagnosed each year with the rare staph infection, which progresses rapidly and has a mortality rate higher than 20 percent. Many of the infections develop in children who have chicken pox, he said.
Congeni is awaiting final test results from Julian's infection.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)