SYRACUSE -- A North Davis County teen recently died from complications related to meningitis and encephalitis.
According to Davis County Health Department year-end reports, from 2008 to 2010 there were six reported cases, two each year, of the "quite severe" bacterial meningitis.
Alexander Oswaldo Urquijo, 13, died Jan. 15 of meningitis and encephalitis, according to an obituary submitted by the family to the Standard-Examiner. Urquijo, who attended Syracuse Junior High School, played recreation football and was a member of the Clearfield City Aquatics Swim Team.
"We feel saddened when anybody dies, especially someone as young as this," Davis County Health Department Public Information Officer Bob Ballew said.
But health officials can speak only in generalities regarding meningitis, and not to the specific case, Ballew said.
"Meningitis is a rare disease. A large portion of potential meningitis cases are prevented because of vaccinations. However, a small number of meningitis cases do occur, an even smaller percentage result in death," Davis County Health Department Epidemiologist Brian Hatch said.
But based on information obtained by health officials, Hatch said, this particular case appears to pose no risk to the public.
"As in all communicable disease cases," Hatch said, "local public health does investigate all meningitis cases."
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms of this disease can be abrupt and varied, Hatch said, but the illness is generally characterized by such symptoms as fever, vomiting, headaches, diarrhea, stiff neck and rash, and can include light sensitivity.
Meningitis can be caused by a number of viruses and bacteria. There are the "less severe" aseptic/viral meningitis and the "quite severe" bacterial meningitis, the latter resulting in possible brain damage, hearing loss, disability or death, according to the Davis County Health Department's Communicable Diseases 2010 report.
During 2010, nine cases of aseptic/viral meningitis and two cases of bacterial meningitis were reported in the county, according to the latest data available.
The communicable disease report for 2011 is expected to be available in February.
Prior to the 1990s, Haemophilus influenzae was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in the United States. Since the introduction of the Hib vaccine, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidis have taken the lead as causes of bacterial meningitis, health officials said.
The county's total of nine cases of aseptic/viral meningitis in 2010 was significantly down from the 19 cases of aseptic/viral meningitis reported in 2009 and the 22 cases reported in 2008.