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14 on antibiotics after contact with ECHHS student

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

The Orange County Health Department says 14 people who came in contact with an East Chapel Hill High School student who died Wednesday of a bacterial infection are on antibiotics.

School officials said on Wednesday that a 14-year-old student died from what was presumed to be Meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection caused by the same bacteria that can cause Meningitis.

Orange County Health Director Colleen Bridger said nurses were able to trace the student's contacts and inform those who came in contact with the 14-year-old boy.

In a letter to parents, the school said the student may have been infectious at school Feb. 11, 12, 17 and 18.

"If a person is infected, symptoms usually start within three to four days of exposure but can take as long as 14 days to begin," the school said.

The Orange County Health Department said the boy presented the first symptoms on Tuesday.

Bridger said the disease is not easily spread, and a person would have to come into contact through the infected person's saliva during the infected period.

Bridger said Thursday that it is hard to know where the bacteria came from.

Students leaving the high school told WNCN that counselors were on hand Thursday to comfort those distraught by the sudden loss.

"It's a really sad experience for the whole student body," said student Collin MacClennan. "We are all a huge family. [We will] get through this together."

Fellow student Alan Liu said, "I know a few kids that played basketball with him. I know he was a good guy."

Students say the victim had recently moved to town and was new to the school.

His name has not been released.

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