Officials said the disease is spread through saliva.
ALLIANCE -- Officials at Alliance Community Hospital are warning residents who may have come in contact with the saliva of a ninth-grade student who died of meningitis to be cautious of the signs and symptoms of infection.
West Branch student John Stauffer died in Akron Children's Hospital of nisseria meningitis Saturday afternoon. Stauffer was taken by helicopter from Alliance Community Hospital to Akron after coming into the hospital late Friday night.
Explanation: Diana Hunter, nursing supervisor at Alliance Community Hospital, said nisseria meningitis is commonly found in the nasal passages of 25 percent of the population. People who develop full-blown cases are typically the elderly, newborns and those with compromised immune systems, she said.
Hunter said Stauffer may have had pneumonia and a sinus infection, thus compromising his immune system. The hospital, however, could not say for certain that Stauffer suffered from pneumonia or a sinus infection.
Hunter said the disease has a three- to five-day incubation period, and is spread through saliva. It can be picked up in the air, by kissing, or by sharing the same drinking glass as a person that carries the bacteria.
Hunter said it is important for anyone who may have come in contact with the bacteria to be aware of the signs and symptoms of infection.
She said infected individuals may suffer flu-like symptoms -- fever, chills, and severe headache. In the later stages, she said, a bad rash may be present.
Hunter said it is important for individuals who experience such symptoms to contact a physician.