2nd soldier dies of meningitis

February 17, 2009 1:07:10 PM PST
A second soldier stationed at the Army's Fort Leonard Wood has died of meningitis, officials said Tuesday. Leonard Wood officials said Pvt. Randy Stabnick, 28, of South Bend, Ind., died Tuesday at a hospital in Springfield.

Another soldier from the base died Feb. 9. His name has not been released.

"The soldiers and their families continue to be in our prayers today," Maj. Gen. Gregg Martin, commanding general of Maneuver Support Center and Fort Leonard Wood, said in a statement.

Base officials said both soldiers had a non-contagious form of meningitis.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent four representatives to investigate.

Base officials said they were increasing soldiers' awareness of preventive measures, reminding them to wash their hands, avoid sharing utensils and to use proper cough etiquette.

Meningitis can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection. The viral form is generally less severe. Bacterial meningitis can result in brain damage, hearing loss, learning disability and death.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is not involved in the Fort Leonard Wood investigation. Outside the base, health department spokesman Kit Wagar said, three meningitis cases have been reported in the state this year, most recently a 15-year-old girl diagnosed during the weekend and hospitalized in Columbia.

Wagar said Missouri had 26 cases last year, including three deaths.

Meningitis is especially worrisome in situations where a lot of people are in close proximity, such as college dormitories or Army bases. Three students at the University of Pennsylvania were improving after contracting the disease this month. More than 2,100 students received precautionary antibiotics. Ohio University has reported one confirmed case of bacterial meningitis and a second probable case.

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AP reporter Bill Draper in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this report.

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