Meningitis suspected in 4-year-old Pasco County boy's death; family wants answers

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - Pictures show a smiling, seemingly healthy 4-year-old boy.

"It's really real. It's horrible," Rachael Edwards said. "Nobody understands why. I don't understand why."

Edwards 4-year-old son, Amonti Saunders, died on Sunday. According to family members, doctors suspect he contracted bacterial meningitis.

He started showing symptoms Saturday night.

"He started having a fever," said his cousin Miranda Hill. " He had blotches all over his face and his eyes were turning bloodshot. His lips were starting to turn purple."

Amonti was rushed to the hospital. But within hours, doctors said there was nothing else they could do. Amonti was dead and so many questions remained unanswered.

"We want to know where did he get this from? Where did he come in contact? Who else around here has it," questioned Hill. "Somebody else in Pasco County has to have it for him to contract it."

According to the Pasco County Health Department, bacterial meningitis is usually transmitted through saliva.

"It's not as contagious as the common cold. It has to be prolonged close contact with an infected individual," said Deanna Krautner, a spokesperson with the Pasco County Health Department.
 
Krautner said the health department was notified of this suspected case of meningitis. She confirmed everyone who is known to have been in close contact with Amonti has received treatment as a precaution.

The concern carried over to Amonti's preschool Kid's Safari Christian in New Port Richey. He was a student there since he was a baby.

The school chairman, Mark Schiefer, told ABC Action News they closed the preschool on Monday for cleaning and other precautions. "The children we think were in contact with the boy received shots and antibiotics just in case," Schiefer said.

He estimated about 15 people at the preschool received some kind of treatment.

But until the cause is pinpointed, Amonti's family fears it could happen to someone else.
 
"We don't want another family to go through what we just went through," Hill said. "It's a devastating, devastating situation."

The family is waiting for the final autopsy report to see if it was, in fact, bacterial meningitis that killed Amonti. Krautner said she expects the results to be back on Thursday.

According to the Pasco County Health Department, there have been two confirmed cases of meningitis in the county this year.

 

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