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Health Officials: Student’s Death Not Linked To National Meningitis Outbreak

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Ty'Niajah Devonshire
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Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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GLEN BURNIE, Md. (WJZ) — Another possible case of meningitis could be to blame for the death of a high school student in Anne Arundel County.

Rochelle Ritchie spoke with friends of the victim and with health officials, who say this doesn’t appear to be linked to the fungal meningitis outbreak nationwide.

Several months ago, a pharmaceutical company sent contaminated vials of a steroid that was later linked to several deaths from fungal meningitis. Anne Arundel County officials say this is not the situation in the case of a Glen Burnie High School student who died Tuesday.

As the bell rang for students to end the school day at Glen Burnie High School, students shared their shock and sympathy for fellow student Ty’Niajah Devonshire.

“She was a real cool, laid back person. Every time I saw her, she was smiling,” said Shyla Liverpool.

Devonshire, who reportedly suffered from Sickle Cell Disease, died suddenly on Tuesday after becoming ill the day before.

“It’s really scary. I mean that quick…gone,” said Tyler West.

The Anne Arundel County Health Department is now investigating if her death is linked to bacterial meningitis.

“It is not a confirmed case. There is further testing to be done,” said Dr. Jiniene Chan.

Health officials say Devonshire’s symptoms were similar to those often seen in meningitis cases: chills, fever, vomiting, headache, stiff neck and rash. The symptoms are often associated with the flu.

“I think people should seek medical care if their symptoms worsen,” said Chan.

Doctors say the teen’s death is not linked to the fungal meningitis epidemic responsible for the death of several people across the country after contaminated vials were sent to several health centers, including some in Maryland.

“Fungal meningitis presents differently than what is associated in this case,” said Chan.

Students say they weren’t worried about the disease becoming an outbreak. They’re only concerned about sending warm thoughts to Devonshire’s heartbroken friends and family.

No other cases have been discovered since Devonshire’s death.

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