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Stockton Father Sending Warning After Daughter Dies From Bacterial Meningitis

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STOCKTON (CBS13) – A Stockton fourth grade girl has died from bacterial meningitis.

On Monday, nurses were at Kennedy Elementary School, making sure no one came in direct contact with 9-year-old Jewel Knight.

This little girl went home sick Thursday, suffering from flu-like symptoms. She complained of a painful stiff neck, backache and a throbbing head. On Sunday, she died.

“We had no idea what it was,” father John Knight said.

Each child at the elementary school was given specific instructions of no kissing, no sharing sodas, and no direct contact. The school is trying to block the spread of a possible meningitis outbreak.

“We’ve had a child, a fourth grader, who went home from school, sick, an elementary school,” confirmed Dianne Barth, spokesperson for the Stockton Unified School District.

Jewel’s aunt told CBS13 that the girl went to St. Joseph’s Hospital. Her family was told it was the flu, but her condition deteriorated quickly.

“Of course, like anything else, giving her Tylenols and treating her for being sick, keeping her hydrated,” John said of treating his daughter initially.

“That’s scary, I’m frightened. I want to know more,” said one concerned parent.

Students at Kennedy Elementary left school with a letter for their parents explaining the health scare. The letter says bacterial meningitis cannot be spread through casual classroom contact. Only through oral secretions such as sharing a drinking glass, or eating utensils.

“Was she sick at home, or did she go somewhere and catch something, I’m scared for (my child),” said the parent.

Not only is the school trying to stop the spread of the deadly disease, but grief counselors were at the school Monday, helping the children cope with the sudden loss of a classmate.

“Our hearts certainly go out to this child’s family that have to go through this, this is a tragedy,” Barth said.

Jewel’s parents were terrified to learn that their daughter’s brain activity was deteriorating. So Jewel was life-flighted to Children’s Hospital & Research Center in Oakland. Within hours, she was declared brain dead.

Doctors in Oakland confirm she was the victim of meningitis. John learned meningitis could be contracted from sharing fluids from a person infected like sharing a soda can, a kiss or even being sprayed by a sneeze.

He’s now on a mission to warn others.

“As soon as I found out, I immediately called neighbors and friends she’d been in contact with and told them to get their kids checked out,” said John. “ ‘Get them to a clinic, to an ER room and they can help them out with that.’ ”

The school district says over the past decade there have been a few meningitis cases, but none have been fatal, and never have there been two cases at one school.

John has already set up a fund in Jewel’s name and donations can be made at any Bank of the West branch.

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