Cause of Queensbury student’s death still unclear

August 31, 2012
Updated 8:44 a.m.
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— The cause of death of a 16-year-old Queensbury High School football player remained unknown Thursday, but state health officials said the boy’s death was not caused by the four most common types of contagious bacterial meningitis.

Jonathan Vasiliou, a junior on the varsity football team, died Tuesday at Albany Medical Center Hospital. He was taken there on Monday after suffering fever and other serious symptoms.

“Tests for the four most common types of bacterial meningitis all came back negative,” said Peter Constantakes, a spokesman for the state Health Department.

“That does not mean that we can rule out a communicable disease. But it’s unlikely it is communicable,” Constantakes said.

State health officials are not recommending players on the Queensbury or Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School football teams take antibiotics. The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School football team played a scrimmage game against Queensbury High School at the Saratoga County school last Saturday.

When health officials suspected the boy may have died from bacterial meningitis, they recommended a single dose of the antibiotic Ciprofloacin as a precautionary measure.

Constantakes said state health experts are currently looking at Vasiliou’s medical history and medical records and continuing testing.

The illness had prompted the Queensbury Central School District’s physician to recommend members of the varsity, junior varsity and freshman football teams receive preventative treatments of the drug, used to treat different types of bacterial infections.

Superintendent Douglas W. Huntley of the Queensbury district said many of the football players had already taken the medicine by late Wednesday, when test results showed the student did not die from the four most common types of contagious meningitis.

Huntley said the district wanted to make sure the football players were protected in case a infectious type of meningitis caused the student’s death.

The football team will play its game on Saturday.

There will not be an autopsy performed at the family’s request, Huntley said.

The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District posted a statement on its website Thursday afternoon saying that the administration of a single dose of antibiotic to the members of the varsity and junior varsity football teams who attended Saturday’s scrimmage is not now necessary, “neither is it harmful for them as a preventive measure.” Parents are advised to consult their son’s health care provider with any questions or concerns.

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