Medic Dies of Meningitis After Treating Protesters

A volunteer medic who treated injured demonstrators at a free-trade meeting last week died Wednesday of bacterial meningitis, sparking an investigation to determine whether others were exposed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that no other cases had been confirmed. Forty to 45 people who had close contact with the victim were given antibiotics, CDC spokesman Llelwyn Grant said.

“We just don’t know at this time how far-reaching this will be,” Grant said.

The Neisseria meningitidis microbe, spread through respiratory droplets, can cause death in up to 20% of untreated cases, but Grant said it probably would not be spread in a crowd through breathing.

Also Wednesday, protesters showed a videotape in which police in riot gear trampled a protester and shot rubber bullets at an attorney who had her back turned.

In the final days of the talks, some of the thousands of demonstrators threw objects and fired slingshots at officers. Police hit protesters with batons, zapped them with stun guns and dispersed them with gas and spray. The video depicted scuffles between police and protesters and showed demonstrators with bloody faces.

The AFL-CIO labor organization and civil rights groups have accused the police of abusing demonstrators and arresting them without cause. More than 200 people were arrested during the talks.

Miami police, who have defended their actions, did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Authorities did not identify the meningitis victim, a 23-year-old New Jersey man, but protest organizers said his name was Jordan Feder. Feder treated protesters who had been exposed to tear gas and pepper spray, his friend Patrick McKale said.

The victim had been hospitalized in Raleigh, N.C., since Monday, said Dr. Jean-Marie Maillard, an epidemiologist for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Symptoms of meningitis usually appear within four days and can include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, a stiff neck, rash, confusion, sleepiness and discomfort while looking into bright light.

Original Link: http://articles.latimes.com/2003/nov/27/nation/na-medic27