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Lindblom Academy Closed Wednesday After Student Dies From Meningitis

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CBS Chicago (con't)

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Savon Smith (left) with his mother and brother. (Family photo)

Savon Smith (left) with his mother and brother. (Family photo)

Updated 05/08/13 – 11:13 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A 16-year-old Lindblom Math & Science Academy High School student died Monday from a non-contagious form of bacterial Meningitis, according to a release from Chicago Public Schools.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said 16-year-old Savon E. Smith died of meningitis. An autopsy performed Tuesday ruled his death as natural.

“My son was outgoing. To know him was to love him, and he loved life,” his mother Nicole Smith said.

Savon spoke Mandarin Chinese, and was an honor student at Lindblom, where he played soccer and started a martial arts club.

“We were deeply saddened to learn that a 16 year old student at Lindblom Math & Science Academy High School passed away yesterday from a non-contagious form of bacterial meningitis,” CPS Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time.”

Savon’s parents said they have no idea how he became infected with bacterial meningitis.

She went to her son’s bedroom Monday morning to wake him up. She said her heart started to sink when she noticed he wasn’t breathing.

“It still is,” she said. “I shook him, he wasn’t responsive.”

She said, over the weekend her son complained of a headache, and slept longer than usual, but she had no idea the cause was meningitis.

“Some of the signs that they said, we did not notice, or he didn’t have, except the headaches,” said Savon’s father, Jackie White.

Savon’s mother said he had a bright future ahead of him.

“Yes he did; awesome, awesome. And he looked forward to it. He was ready to go to college,” she said. “I don’t like to speak of him in past tense. I mean, he is an awesome child, and he will be missed.”

Lindblom Principal Alan Mather said Savon ran the school’s martial arts club almost entirely on his own.

“So he was engaged in school. He had a number of friends at school, who clearly are hurting right now,” Mather said. “He was just a nice young man.”

CPS officials said they have concluded that there is no outbreak of meningitis at the school, based on their preliminary investigations, and there is no immediate health risk to students or staff, as the strain of meningitis in this case is not contagious from person to person. However, the school was closed Wednesday as a precaution.

School officials will spend the day reviewing what happened, and thoroughly cleaning the building as a precaution.

The school has sent emails and made robocalls to the parents of all Lindblom parents, informing them of the death, and reassuring them there is no risk of contagion.

Some symptoms of meningitis include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea and sensitivity to light. It can be cured with antibiotics.

Lindblom planned to resume classes on Thursday after cleaning the school.

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