Macomb County woman dies of meningitis

Over 200 day camp kids, Life Time employees remain at risk of infection

By: Mary Beth Almond | C&G Newspapers | Published July 14, 2016

The Macomb County Health Department confirmed July 16 the death of a Macomb County woman who recently contracted bacterial meningitis.

Kristy Malter, 21, a junior at Central Michigan University and a Notre Dame Prepratory School alumna, recently served as a day camp instructor at Life Time Fitness in Rochester Hills, working with children between the ages of 5 and 12.

Life Time Fitness first notified parents of campers, employees and gym members of the situation in a July 13 email, which said the company shared the news “out of an abundance of caution and to ensure we openly communicate with all members.”

Life Time Fitness updated its members on the incident again in an email sent at 4 p.m. July 14. The email said the club was “notified of an employee who was clinically diagnosed with a case of meningococcal disease” the afternoon of Wednesday, July 13.

“We are greatly saddened to have since learned of the tragic passing of Kristy Malter through complications associated with the disease. Our sincere and heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the Malter family, as well as the many friends and colleagues who are grieving in light of this terrible loss,” the email reads.

Oakland County Health Officials said more than 200 children and a host of employees at Life Time Fitness in Rochester Hills are currently at risk for bacterial meningitis.

As of July 14, Oakland County Health Division officials said they had directly contacted the parents of children enrolled in the summer camp program who may have been identified as having been potentially exposed between July 1 and 11. Those who had contact with the affected individual were advised to seek post-exposure treatments, even if they previously received vaccinations, according to the Health Division.Dr. Pamela Hackert, chief of medical services for the Health Division, said bacterial meningitis is a serious illness that can develop quickly, but can also be prevented through antibiotics after exposure.

“People who have been contacted by Life Time Fitness and told they have potentially been a contact to this case should receive antibiotics immediately,” Hackert said in a statement.

Those who may have been exposed could begin to develop symptoms of meningococcal disease at any time through July 21, according to the Health Division. Officials stressed that if any symptoms develop — which include a sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck, flu-like symptoms, confusion, and/or sometimes a rash — the individual should be immediately taken to a physician or emergency room to to be evaluated for possible meningococcal disease.

On its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that bacterial meningitis is “very serious and can be deadly.” The site also says: “Death can occur in as little as a few hours. While most people with meningitis recover, permanent disabilities such as brain damage, hearing loss and learning disabilities can result from the infection.”

Kathy Forzley, manager of the county’s Health Division, said the disease is not spread through casual contact or by simply being in the same room as an infected person.

“A person must have direct contact with an infected person’s saliva or nasal secretions. If exposed, the incubation period is one to 10 days,” she said in a statement.

To reduce risk of contracting or spreading the disease, people should wash their hands frequently and avoid sharing items that come in contact with another person’s saliva, such as foods, drinks, lipstick or chapstick, or cigarettes.

Life Time Fitness in Rochester Hills was open for business as usual July 14.

The July 14 email said the Health Division has advised “that summer camps at Rochester Hills should continue.”

representative from the Life Time Fitness corporate office could not be reached for comment at press time.

Those with questions can contact Oakland County’s nurse on call 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at (800) 848- 5533 or email noc@oakgov.com.

Those in Macomb County can call the Macomb County Health Division at (586) 469-5235.

For more information about bacterial meningitis, visit www.oakgov.com/health.