School faculty member dies of meningitis

Students at school have been informed
January 25, 2008 2:51:01 PM PST
A Catholic school guidance counselor died of meningococcal meningitis on Friday, a day after a student at another high school 15 miles away died of the same type of bacterial infection.City health officials said there was no apparent connection between the two cases.

Friday's victim was on the faculty at the St. Francis Preparatory High School in Fresh Meadows, Queens. The school posted a message on its Web site identifying the counselor as LeeAnne Burke.

"Please pray for the repose of the soul of Ms. LeeAnne Burke of the Guidance Department who passed away this morning," the message said.

The city's health department declined to talk in detail about the death, but released a statement saying it was investigating whether any of Burke's relatives or close friends were exposed to the bacteria, which is contagious but is not spread through casual contact.

The school planned to show students a film about the disease and had a city health official on hand Friday to answer questions. Classes for next Tuesday were canceled so people could attend Burke's funeral.

The Health Department released the following statement:

The Health Department investigated a case of bacterial meningitis in a faculty member at a private school this week. The individual has died. The Health Department looked into whether any close contacts, such as family members and close friends may have been at risk and provided preventive antibiotic treatment. Meningitis is not spread through casual contact. No other cases of illness have been found.

Click Here for the CDC page on meningitis.