E. Islip student dies of bacterial meningitis

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An East Islip High School student has died of bacterial meningitis after being hospitalized for more than a week, the school district said Saturday.

"The East Islip Board of Education, administration, and entire school district community are truly saddened to learn of this tragic loss," Superintendent John Finello said in a statement.

"We extend our deepest and most sincere condolences to the student's family and friends during this very difficult time," he said.

A school district spokeswoman identified the student as Kimberly Coffey, 17.

Finello said the district will offer grief counseling and other support services to students and staff, starting Monday.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services was notified of the case by the hospital on June 8. Health officials then notified the school district.

The school district on June 11 notified parents, students and faculty via email and telephone calls.

Meningitis is caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bacterial meningitis is contagious, but Finello said it's safe for East Islip students to return to school.

"We have been informed by public health officials that the incubation period for those who may have had close contact with this student has passed," he wrote. The incubation period typically lasts about four days.

Antibiotics are commonly used to treat people with meningococcal disease. There is a vaccine to prevent the disease, and the CDC recommends routine vaccination for children ages 11 or 12, with a booster dose at 16.

There were three cases of meningococcal disease, which includes bacterial meningitis, reported on Long Island last year, according to the state health department. In January 2008, a senior at Massapequa High School, 17-year-old Michael Gruber, died from the bacterial infection one day after falling ill.

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