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Man Dies of Bacterial Meningitis Hours After Symptoms Surface

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A second deadly case in as many months of bacterial meningitis has been confirmed in South Florida, Miami-Dade County Health officials said Wednesday.

Just like in the case of a high school student who died in October, Bryant De La Cruz's condition worsened rapidly.

What started as a headache and fever Monday night ended tragically Tuesday, De La Cruz's uncle Hans Martinez said.

"He had everything going for him," Martinez told CBS 4's Lauren Pastrana.

Martinez and his wife Nancy can't believe how quickly their nephew's health deteriorated.

They said the 25-year-old, whose birthday is just days away, was like a son to them.

"Wonderful, energetic, ambitious, special," Martinez said while describing De La Cruz.

De La Cruz died of bacterial meningitis Tuesday morning, just hours after first being admitted and discharged from Baptist Hospital.

He posted a photo of his hospital bracelet on his Facebook page Monday night with the caption "Sick!"

"I called him and he said, 'I couldn't take it. I had a lot of fever and my whole body is hurting'," De La Cruz's girlfriend Anielka Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez and De La Cruz had only been dating a few weeks, she said.

Upon hearing the news of his death, she immediately got herself and her son checked out.

"They put a shot to me and to my son because I've been in contact with him," Gonzalez explained. She said she felt fine Wednesday.

The discharge papers from Baptist diagnosed De La Cruz with probable viral pharyngitis, or a sore throat.

He was advised to take Tylenol or Motrin and to rest.

But De La Cruz's condition worsened rapidly. His uncle said he died on his way back to the hospital the next morning.

De La Cruz is the second person to die of bacterial meningitis in South Florida in five weeks.

Coral Reef High School Student Christopher Valdes died within an hour of arriving at Jackson South, hospital officials said.

De La Cruz's family hopes both cases serve as a lesson.

"You just want to make people aware," Martinez said. "Be proactive."

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis include, but are not limited to, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, and confusion.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the symptoms of bacterial meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. Typically they develop within 3-7 days after exposure.

De La Cruz's loved ones said he was a hard worker and a provider who paid for his sister's college tuition and supported his parents in Colombia.

"He was such a good man," Gonzalez said. "I feel sorry for him and his family."

De La Cruz's parents don't have visas to come to the states for a funeral.

His uncle said they plan to have a viewing and service in Miami before they send his remains to his mother and father in Colombia.

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