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Eaglecrest High School students to return to class after death of teacher with bacterial meningitis

Eaglecrest High School students to return to class after death of teacher with bacterial meningitis
Eaglecrest High School students to return to class after death of teacher with bacterial meningitis 02:48

Eaglecrest High School will reopen on Thursday morning for students after the school was closed due to health concerns. Two teachers at Eaglecrest High School died within 24 hours of each other, one of which was linked to a confirmed case of bacterial meningitis. 

Both worked in the same department at EHS, but only one has been linked to meningitis thus far. The ILC program at Eaglecrest High School will be closed Thursday and Friday and fully reopen on Monday.


Cherry Creek Schools closed Eaglecrest on Wednesday as they started the health contact tracing process with Arapahoe County Health. Students and staff who came in close contact with the confirmed case of bacterial meningitis should have been contacted by the health department. 

"It is very important that we notify close contacts as quickly as possible," said Jennifer Ludwig, Director of the Arapahoe County Public Health Department. "We wanted to move very quickly."

The health department said they were only investigating one case of meningitis and would not release what the cause of death was for the second educator. Cherry Creek Schools issued a statement saying the deaths were unrelated.

Ludwig said the process of contacting those who were in close proximity to the confirmed meningitis case takes time. 

"Every phone call leads to other contacts," Ludwig said. 

Health experts with Arapahoe County and Denver Health Hospital both said the threat of infection is low for the students and staff around Eaglecrest High School.


"(Cases of bacterial meningitis are) fairly rare, thankfully," said Dr. Robert Belknap of Denver Health. "This is not something that people need to be concerned that the school is unsafe."

Belknap said bacterial meningitis is not transferred over surfaces and is typically transferred through respiratory particles spread over long periods of time in close contact. Belknap said a transfer between individuals would likely take hours of continuous close contact in order to infect another. Other methods of transfer could also include sharing foods or drinks. 

Belknap said students and families around EHS should not be overly concerned but should still take preventative measures. 

"Elementary or high school settings in particular are not high-risk settings," Belknap said. "We are thinking more of dormitory-style settings where people are living with each other."    

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis include neck stiffness, rash, fever and confusion. 

There are preventative measures that can be taken including a vaccine. Those who were in close contact with the confirmed case are also encouraged to start taking prescribed antibiotics. 

Bacterial meningitis is very rare in Colorado with an average of fewer than 10 cases reported in the state every year. 

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