Dr. Chris Urbina, Arapahoe County Chief Medical Director, left, Jennifer Ludwig, Arapahoe County Public Health Director, bottom right, and Anders Nelson, Arapahoe County Public Information Officer, talk about a meningitis case, April 12, 2023, that was reported in Eaglecrest. High School, April 11, 2023.
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aurora | Arapahoe County Public Health is working with the Cherry Creek School District to identify close contacts of an Eaglecrest High School employee who died of meningitis over the weekend.

A second school employee also died, but health officials did not say whether the deaths were related or whether the second death was attributed to meningitis.

“For the general public, the risk is low,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Chris Urbina said at a health department news conference Wednesday afternoon.

Meningitis causes inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord, and symptoms can develop quickly and worsen. It can be treated with antibiotics.

About seven cases of meningitis are diagnosed in Colorado each year, Urbina said.

In a message to families Monday, Eaglecrest Principal Gwen Hansen-Vigil said the school’s paraprofessional Judith Geoffroy and teacher Maddie Schmidt both died in the past 24 hours. Both worked in the school’s Integrated Learning Center program, which serves students with a variety of special needs.

On Tuesday, the district sent a message that tests by Arapahoe County Public Health showed that Schmidt had symptoms consistent with bacterial meningitis, and that the district would work with the department to trace contacts of people who had close contact with him.

Geoffrey’s cause of death has not been released, according to county officials.

As a precautionary measure, school was canceled at Eaglecrest on Wednesday, including all athletics and school activities scheduled to take place. SAT and PSAT tests scheduled for Wednesday have been rescheduled.

At the news conference, Arapahoe County Public Health Director Jennifer Ludwig expressed her sympathy for the school district.

“This is a very difficult time for the whole community,” he said.

Ludwig said the health department learned about the case yesterday after lab-confirmed tests.

As of yesterday evening, Ludwig said 10 close contacts had been identified and the investigation was ongoing. The department is working to identify those who may be at risk of contracting the disease because of their proximity to Schmidt and connect them to medical care, if necessary.

Ludwig said Cherry Creek Schools has been “fantastic” about helping the department reach people.

“It is very important that we notify close contacts as soon as possible, because the time frame to reach them so that they can seek medical care is very short,” he said.

Relatively extended contact with an infected person is required to transmit the disease, Urbina said. Symptoms of meningitis include a stiff neck, high fever, severe headache, nausea, sleepiness, and eye sensitivity to light.

Cherry Creek spokeswoman Lauren Snell said the guard that Death of Geoffrey Still under investigation.

Ludwig said at the press conference that the department is investigating only one case at this time. He declined to answer a question about whether he was a close contact of Geoffrey Schmidt.

On Wednesday afternoon, the district announced that school and normal activities would resume at Eaglecrest on Thursday. Snell said the Integrated Learning Center program will be closed Thursday and Friday and will fully reopen Monday.

Those with concerns about meningitis can contact Arapahoe County Public Health at 303-795-4584.

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