Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lethbridge boy, 7, dies of meningitis

CALGARY — A seven-year-old Alberta boy has died of meningitis, a devastating illness that affects about 400 Canadians annually but rarely kills children over the age of five as new vaccines have become a routine part of immunization programs.

Mark Willcock, who died in a Calgary hospital on Monday of the disease that causes membranes around the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed, may never have received preventive vaccines, his mother said.

“I thought he was in the lower risk group,” a heartbroken Kim Willcock said from her home in Lethbridge. “They're so healthy and you never think it's going to happen to you or your kid.”

Last Wednesday, the outgoing Grade 2 student told his mother he felt sick. She gave him Motrin for a mild fever and kept him home from school and watched him play video games.

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