Bacteria that Killed Teen Remains Unknown

Bacteria that Killed Teen Remains Unknown

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Health officials say the exact meningitis bacteria that killed a 15-year-old girl this past week will never be known.

Demi Candelaria, a Judge Memorial Catholic High sophomore, died suddenly Tuesday.

Officials with the Salt Lake Valley Health Department said they expected to receive conclusive results of a culture test within a day or two. However, because the girl was treated with antibiotics, the culture came back inconclusive, officials said.

"We might never know because they pretreated her with antibiotics, which wipes out the bacteria," said Dagmar Vitek, medical director for the Salt Lake Valley Health Department. "We still assume she had bacterial meningitis because of the clinical picture."

Demi played with the school's basketball team in St. George last weekend before becoming suddenly ill.

Doctors believe the disease was bacterial in nature because of the rapid progression of the illness and the fact that she died.

Meningitis is an infection of the fluid in the spinal cord and around the brain. It can lead to central nervous system damage, organ failure and death.

No one else at Judge Memorial has complained of the symptoms of meningitis, which include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, confusion, sleepiness and sometimes a rash.

Bacterial meningitis is transmitted by direct contact including respiratory droplets from the nose and throat of infected people. None of the bacteria that causes meningitis are as contagious as illnesses like the common cold or the flu, and they are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been, officials said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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