A student at Coral Reef Senior High School has died from bacterial meningitis, but the case is not related to the nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak, the school district said.
The schools are working closely with the Miami-Dade County Health Department and are following procedures to safeguard the health of other students, Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokesman John Schuster said.
Family members identified the student as Christopher Valdes, 18.
He felt ill at his home on SW 192nd Street Friday morning and was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital South where he was later pronounced dead, Miami-Dade Police said in a statement. Valdes died within one hour of arriving at a hospital, medical officials said at a news conference.
Ricardo Valdes said he took his son to an urgent care facility Thursday night which diagnosed him with a flu virus and found he had a 104.3-degree fever.
"Not even antibiotics were prescribed, just a flu virus," he said.
Health department officials said Christopher Valdes was prescribed antibiotics, however.
"They were given instructions if there was deterioration to consult their physicians or the emergency room, and so they did, but by the time they went the deterioration was very advanced," said Dr. Alvaro Mejia-Echeverry, an epidemiologist with the health department.
Ricardo Valdes said Christopher was "the kind of kid that you would dream of as a dad."
"And I guess if what they say only the good die young, boy, they lived up to it there," he said. "Right now I feel like I’m living in a nightmare. I feel like at any moment they’re going to wake me up and you guys will all be gone and it will be over, but it’s not happening."
A letter to parents, which was obtained by NBC 6 South Florida, said that the student was diagnosed with meningococcal disease, a severe infection of the bloodstream caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis.
The school said it was on lockdown Friday and wanted to make sure that parents got the letter.
The health department is investigating the "close contacts" of the student, Principal Adrianne Leal wrote in the letter.
"This bacteria is spread by direct, close contact with nose or throat discharges of an infected person. Some ways that it can be spread include kissing and sharing of food and beverages," she wrote. "Many people carry this particular germ in their nose and throat without any signs of illness, while others may develop serious symptoms."
Common symptoms of meningococcal disease include fever, headache, vomiting, a rash and a stiff neck, Leal wrote.
She urged parents to bring their son or daughter to a doctor immediately if they have any of those symptoms, and said the health department can take any questions at 305-470-5660.
Word of the lockdown quickly spread on Twitter, followed by news of the student's death.
"My heart goes out to coral reef right now ... I know how it feels to lose someone that went to your school! Keep your head up," wrote Tae Twa (@TawanaDukes).
Said Nick Vega, 15, of Miami: "Rest in peace to the student who passed away at Coral Reef today.
According to police, the cause of Valdes' death remains unknown pending results from the medical examiner's office.
Mejia-Echeverry said it wouldn't be possible to trace where Valdes was infected.
There are about 15 to 20 cases of bacterial meningitis in the county each year, and Valdes is the second person to die from the disease this year, according to the health department.
Ricardo Valdes said his son woke him up during the 4 a.m. hour and told him, "Look Dad, I'm feeling horrible and I got bruises all over my body."
He quickly took him to the hospital. Eventually Christopher Valdes' heart seized, and he was revived, but he died shortly after that, his father said.
“He was (a) good, hard worker, worked and went to school, and just got his car," said his aunt, Barbara Torres. "He was just living life at 18. Why so young, why do they have to take ‘em so young, man, so young?”