Seventh grader at Boston Latin Academy dies of meningitis

A 12-year-old student at Boston Latin Academy died Monday after falling ill just three days earlier with meningitis.

"At this difficult time our hearts ache for the family and friends of this young student," Mayor Thomas Menino said in a statement. "We mourn her loss and join with the Boston Latin Academy in this hour of grief."

School Superintendent Carol Johnson said the grief counselors will be at Boston Latin Academy tomorrow to help students and teachers.

A city public-health official had said the seventh grader was "very, very, seriously, critically ill" with bacterial meningitis at a press conference Monday morning - but added she posed no risk to most other students, a city public-health official said Monday.Dr. Anita Barry on the meningitis case at BLA.

A school nurse recognized symptoms of the disease when the girl came into her office Friday not feeling well and had her rushed to a local hospital, Dr. Anita Barry, director of infection control at the Boston Public Health Commission said.

Barry would not further identify the student or what neighborhood she was from. She said she remains in the hospital.

Barry said the germ is not readily spread. She said officials have identified "less than 50" students who may have had close enough contact with the girl to warrant concern - they spent an hour or more within three to six feet. Their parents were urged to get them a preventive dose of antibiotics, she said.

Barry said bacterial meningitis rates in Boston have plummeted with the widespread use of a vaccine. However, she said the vaccine does not work against one strain and that she does not know if the student had been vaccinated.

Infection with the bacteria can result in swelling of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms can include headache, tiredness, dizziness, a stiff neck, a rash and aversion to light.