Health & Medicine

Virus kills Nicholas Co. teen

A 13-year-old boy in the Nicholas County school district who was hospitalized for viral meningitis died Friday, school officials said.

Jerry Patton, a student at Nicholas County Elementary and Middle School, was remembered "as a good kid who liked to work on the farm," said Principal Shawn Parrish.

Upon learning that Jerry had died, Parrish gathered the school's 85 eighth-graders in the library and let them know of his passing.

"They took it about as well as you would expect," Parrish said. "It was very emotional for students and faculty. Everybody knew he was pretty ill."

Nicholas County Superintendent Greg Reid said the school district shares in the grief of Jerry's death.

"The family will remain in our prayers as they begin to try and cope with this tragic event," Reid said in a statement. "It is indeed a sad day for the family and all those around them."

School officials were informed Tuesday that the boy had a confirmed case of viral meningitis and was in a Lexington hospital.

Reid said the district employees "have diligently worked to make certain all areas have been disinfected according to guidelines set forth" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

School employees cleaned and disinfected classrooms and buses. Jerry was a member of the middle school football team, so all team equipment will be disinfected as well.

Students dealing with the loss of their classmate spoke about their feelings throughout the day with counselors on site, Parrish said.

Counselors will be available at the school next week as well, he said.

Viral meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Viral meningitis is generally less severe than bacterial meningitis, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information, go to www.cdc.gov/meningitis/about/faq.html.

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