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Common Bacteria Took Child's Life, Not Meningitis

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State health officials say bacterial meningitis did not take the life of a 13-month-old Tuesday, as previously suspected. Instead, the cause of death...

State health officials say bacterial meningitis did not take the life of a 13-month-old Tuesday, as previously suspected. Instead, the cause of death was a rare complication from a very common infection.

Health officials say a 13-month-old Rhode Islander died Tuesday from a rare complication of Group A Streptococcus – the same bacteria that causes strep throat.

Death from strep A is rare, but State Health Department Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott says it can become invasive when it gets into places the bacteria is not usually found, such as the blood, muscle, or lungs.

“Non-invasive strep infections are very common. It’s something we’ve either all had or been exposed to," said Alexander-Scott. "The challenge is: why did it become invasive? And we don’t always have the answer.”

Invasive strep A causes fewer than 1800 deaths a year across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. By contrast, non-invasive strep A infections occur in millions of people throughout the country every year.

Authorities are not identifying the child to protect the family’s privacy. They’re also not saying whether the toddler was suffering from other health problems.

Children and other close contacts at the child’s day care received a course of antibiotics as a precaution.

Common Bacteria Took Child's Life, Not Meningitis
Common Bacteria Took Child's Life, Not Meningitis