Central Catholic HS student dies of suspected meningococcal disease

PORTLAND, Ore. - A student at Portland's Central Catholic High School has died of what appeared to be meningococcal disease.

Jacob Parkhurst, a 17-year-old junior, died Tuesday evening. Meningococcal disease was the suspected cause of death, county health officials said.

"Jacob Parkhurst died shortly after 7 last night surrounded by family, loved ones, friends; peacefully, beautifully," said Central Catholic High School Principal John Garrow.

The Multnomah County medical examiner said Parkhurst died within 24 hours of being admitted to a hospital.

The school released a statement on its website informing students and staff about Parkhurst's death.

Doctors have taken about a dozen people who are Parkhurst's family, close friends and girlfriend, who have had four hours of close contact with him and given them a dose of antibiotics as a precaution.

Health department officials emphasized they can't specifically ID the illness as meningococcal, and they do believe students at the school are safe. Because it isn't a contagious disease, like whooping cough or measles, doctors said they can't be sure what type of bacterial infection it was.

According to the CDC, quick medical attention is extremely important if meningococcal disease is suspected because the illness moves fast. The symptoms can appear quickly or over several days. They include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and confusion.

Parkhurst tweeted about being sick one day before he died.

Yay for puking and 102 fever ??

Jake Parkhurst (@pjparkhurst) March 3, 2014

His profile has been removed from Twitter.

Parkhurst's mother, Kathy Mayhew, posted about her son's death on Facebook on Tuesday night.

"Tonight at 7:07pm my amazing son Jacob Scott Parkhurst devastatingly pass away. He was such an amazing person and touched the hearts of many wonderful people," she said.

The family released a statement to the media through Garrow.

"We are all very deeply saddened and heartbroken at this time," the statement said. "We ask that you respect our privacy while we grieve our loss."

Counselors were on hand for students and staff at Central Catholic High School on Wednesday.

Catelynn Barron, a sophomore, said everyone in school said a prayer for Parkhurst on Wednesday and one girl left class crying.

The Central Catholic Spirit Council encouraged students to wear black to mourn Parkhurst.

We encourage the CC community to wear black tomorrow to mourn the loss of Jake Parkhurst, early chapel will be available before mass #RIP

CC Spirit (@ccspiritcouncil) March 5, 2014

Only 12 Oregonians had meningococcal disease last year. Two of them died.

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