UPDATE: Second soldier at Fort Leonard Wood dies of meningitis

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 | 1:58 p.m. CST; updated 2:55 p.m. CST, Tuesday, February 17, 2009

FORT LEONARD WOOD — A second soldier stationed at Fort Leonard Wood Army base in Missouri has died of meningitis, officials said Tuesday.

Fort Leonard Wood officials identified the soldier as Pvt. Randy Stabnick, 28, of South Bend, Ind. He died Tuesday at St. John's Hospital in Springfield. He was in initial entry training.

The first soldier 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, Maneuver Support Center and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, said in a news release.

A memorial for Stabnick is scheduled for Wednesday.

Officials at the mid-Missouri base say both soldiers contracted a noncontagious form of meningitis. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent four investigators. CDC spokesman Dave Daigle said the group will include two epidemic intelligence service agents, one epidemiologist and one medical student.

A news conference was planned for Tuesday afternoon at the base.

Fort Leonard Wood authorities say that even though the illnesses were noncontagious forms, they are "heightening awareness" of preventive measures. Soldiers are being reminded to wash their hands, avoid sharing utensils and to use proper cough etiquette and personal hygiene.

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. Symptoms include high fever, headache and a stiff neck, and can also include nausea, vomiting, discomfort looking into bright lights, confusion and sleepiness.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services tracks meningitis cases in the state. But a spokesman said the department is not involved in the Fort Leonard Wood investigation, deferring to the federal government to look into the matter.

State health department spokesman Kit Wagar said that beyond the Fort Leonard Wood cases, three meningitis cases have been reported in Missouri this year, most recently a 15-year-old Camdenton girl diagnosed over the weekend. She was hospitalized in Columbia. Her name and condition were not released.

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

Meningitis is especially concerning in situations with a lot of people in close proximity, like a college dorm or an Army base. Three students at the University of Pennsylvania were improving after contracting the disease this month. More than 2,100 students received precautionary antibiotics. Meanwhile, Ohio University reported one confirmed case of bacterial meningitis and a second probable case.



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Andrew Moore February 18, 2009 | 10:40 a.m.

2 Army soldiers, both training to become heavy equipment operators, living in the same barracks and on the same floor, are dead of meningitis at Ft Leonard Wood in Missouri. The Army says neither case was contagious. If that's true (BIG if), wouldn't it actually be more alarming that conditions are so poor in the barracks that two separate soldiers died independently from non-related cases of meningitis? Good to know the best and brightest are on the case (sarcasm). The families of the young men are in our thoughts and have our full support. The Army owed them and us more- a lot more. Hold them accountable by joining and supporting


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(Report Comment)
Liz Enguidanos February 18, 2009 | 1:51 p.m.

I am the mother of a soldier who is currently at Ft Leonard Wood and a medical ICU nurse. I am concerned for the welfare of my son and the rest of the soldiers at Ft. Leonard Wood and hope that the Army does not disregard the potential that this bacterial strain is, in fact, contagious and lethal. These soldiers are training hard and their immune systems are run down. When my son arrived home for the Christmas exodus, he was very sick with respiratory symptoms and a fever of 104. I took him to the ER where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. I wondered what would have happened if he had still been at the base where the soldiers are reluctant to speak up when they are sick for fear of being called weak. I told him then that it he could have easily become critically ill if he hadn't received the appropriate care early enough. A delay in care could be fatal!

(Report Comment)
Anna Roberts February 18, 2009 | 5:37 p.m.

I also have a son who is currently at Fort Leonardwood. I also am a nurse, but anyone can look on the internet and see what a dangerous situation we have going on there. I wish for once that our government would just tell the truth about how contagious this is and take care of our soldiers. I am praying for the families of the 2 soldiers that have already died and will continue to pray for all the other young men and women stationed at this base. God Bless and Keep them safe and healthy. When my son called me to tell me what had happened to these 2 men he sounded like he had a cold. If not for my faith in Jesus I would be histerical right now.

(Report Comment)
s z February 18, 2009 | 11:07 p.m.

We also have a son at Fort Leonard Wood and are very concerned. They had our son and others call their families and tell them they are okay and that all was checked and that everything checked out and that they were not at risk. If this is true thank the Dear Lord above. However, how do they know. Are they giving our boys and girls preventitive medications to make double sure? I know that when they get sick, they can go to sick bay however, they are told that if they go to sick bay and miss a drill then they would be restarted. How is that helping anyone? Hopefully this makes everyone a little more apt to let our men and women go to sick bay if they aren't feeling good without the fear of being in trouble for trying to take care of their health. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost the most precious thing to them and for all the men and women that are still at Fort Leonard Wood and for their safety and health.

(Report Comment)
lori roberts February 19, 2009 | 5:24 p.m.

I have a husband at Fort Leonardwood and I am very concerned for his and the other soldiers health. The United States is supposed to have the greatest government and military in the world so why can't our loved ones have a sanitary, disease free, and healthy area to live in. You would think that as greedy as our government leaders are, that they would attempt to keep soldiers alive so they wouldn't have to pay life insurance money! I'm sure that everyone would love for their loved ones to come home ALIVE from basic training! God will take care of our soldiers! God Bless all of them and I am keeping them in my prayers. I send my condolences to the families that have lost a loved one!

(Report Comment)
Timothy Paul February 24, 2009 | 9:49 p.m.

I do have great sorro in my heart to have heard of the events that happened. It is my personal fear to hear of on person that I have enlisted and they would not make it home after serving in the the Army. I wish I can tell you that everything is going to be fine. I cant. What I can tell you is that each Battalion Commander Sergeant major company Commander and first Sergenat are doing everying they can to ensure that the living areas are clean and wiped down. Each Drill sergeant is inspecint to make sure that the soldiers have done everthing they can to make sure it is as safe as possable. I feel for each of you mothers fathers wifes or others, each soldier has stood up to defend our grat country. As GOD was with us in the founding of our country Christ is founded in me and I in him. Praise Christ for His mercy and peace he give is. GOD BLESS EACH AND EVER ONE

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