Oliver teen's 2017 death no longer linked to meningitis outbreak - InfoNews

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Oliver teen's 2017 death no longer linked to meningitis outbreak

January 05, 2020 - 6:00 PM

The cause of an Oliver teen's 2017 death was not meningitis, despite suggestions at the time to the contrary.

A Coroner’s report completed Dec. 12 2019 said Aiden Pratt, 19, died  Oct. 12, 2017 from exsanguination from a perforated duodenal ulcer. The cause of death is listed as “natural” and meningitis is not mentioned in the report.

The investigation into Pratt’s death indicates he had been complaining of abdominal pain for months.

He first went to South Okanagan General Hospital on Sept. 21, 2017 for pain, being nauseated and vomiting.

According to the assessment record from that visit, the Oliver teen had abdominal pain for two months, though it intensified before he went to the hospital. He left the hospital before the exam was completed but went to a family doctor six days later.

That doctor diagnosed the teen with gastroesophageal reflux disease. He was prescribed pantoprazole and told to return in a month.

The prescription didn’t appear to be filled and the coroner said that had it been taken when prescribed, “this may have led to a different outcome.”

Meningitis is a rare bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the lining of the brain and concerns that Pratt had died from it were raised as 10 other cases had been reported.

An outbreak was declared just before Christmas in 2017 and involved 11 cases in the Okanagan, with a twelfth elsewhere in the Interior Health Authority.

Pratt’s death was included in the reported cases, although it was always unclear if it was from meningitis or another medical condition. In Vernon, a teenage girl was in serious condition for weeks but survived.

Epidemiology report from Jan. 15, 2018 notes that since 2001, there were between zero and two cases of “serogroup W” in B.C.  In, however, 2005 when there were four cases.

That specific strain burgeoned in 2017, with 16 cases in B.C., including 10 in Interior Health specifically. The other areas with reported cases were Fraser Health Authority, Vancouver Health Authority and Island Health.

According to the epidemiology report, outbreaks of meningitis are not common in B.C. The last one was in 2001 in Abbotsford when seven individuals became sick and two died due to a serogroup C strain. Since an immunization program began in 2008, only one serogroup C case was reported in a person under 25.

Overall, more than 11,000 individuals were vaccinated during the 2017 outbreak.

Interior Health didn’t have to pay for the vaccine (it came from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control) and the cost of the outbreak on the health authority was around $200,000, primarily in staff time and setting up immunization clinics.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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