Health Dept.: Toddler likely died of bacterial infection

The Kent County Health Department

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The death of a Sparta toddler is getting a closer look from local health officials.

The 2-year-old died as the result of a bacterial infection.

“Not meningitis,” Kent County Health Department Epidemiologist Brian Hartl clarified. “At this point, we’re not thinking this was a meningitis case.”

Rather, it was a bacteria-caused blood infection; one that under normal circumstances would cause a more typical childhood illness.

“Like ear infections, pneumonia,” Hartl said. “To reach this point of a severe blood infection is very rare.”

And while it is contagious, health officials have determined people with direct contact with the toddler — his family — were the only  people at risk.

“We have taken precautionary measures with the family itself; immediate family members,” Hartl said. “But in terms of a larger range of people at risk for infection, this type of bacteria does not necessitate that type of response.”

Most child vaccinations protect against the more serious strains. Health officials are reviewing the child’s immunization record.

But even those shots are no guarantee.

“The vaccinations only cover a certain number of strains of bacteria. Obviously, bacteria is always changing and there’s a number of different strains. And so some of the vaccines don’t  over every single strain,” Hartl said.



The Kent County Health Department

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