Updated 08/29/2012 05:51 PM
Queensbury HS athlete dies from serious infection
A 16-year-old Queensbury High School football player died from a serious infection, and student athletes are given preventative medical treatment after potential exposure. Our Megan Cruz has the story.
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QUEENSBURY, N.Y. -- "The side of his face was swelled up, eye was somewhat closed," said Head Varsity Coach John Irion, who saw 16-year-old John Vasiliou after football practice Monday.
On Tuesday, the would-be Queensbury junior died at Albany Medical Center. He'd been admitted the day before to treat an unknown infection.
"We do not know if it was a spread of a dental infection or two different kinds of meningitis, one called pneumococcal and the one that everybody worries about because it's potentially contagious is meningococcal," said Dr. Daniel Larson. He's the school's physician and advisor to the Warren County Public Health Department.
Parents and students met with Dr. Larson and other school officials Wednesday. The Superintendent called the meeting to address the community's concerns about the unknown illness, which can start off looking like a cold.
Dr. Larson said, "If the symptoms become more severe, if all of a sudden someone develops headaches, chills, a fever..."
Most at risk for contracting the infection are his 100 or so teammates on the football team. Ciprofloxacin. A drug that treats bacterial infections is being offered to those students free of charge.
"It's one pill once, it's a very simple, effective medication," said Dr. Larson.
"I know the medication was available at Glens Falls Hospital this morning, but I wanted to personally speak with my pediatrician, just to confirm that this is what we should do," said Cathy Degregorio. Her son is a sophomore at Queensbury High School and plays for the JV team.
Larson says everyone should do the same.
In the meantime, the school is decontaminating the team's lockers and other common areas.
Vasiliou's team is trying to cope.
"Awesome, great guy," said Coach Irion. "Very good student. Quiet, but a great sense of humor. Loved football."
"Very sad," said Anthony Degregorio. "We're still going to play Friday. The coach had asked if we wanted to forfeit or not but we all said we wanted to play. We'll do it for John."
Vasiliou's Varsity team has also decided to play. Their first game is this Saturday.
As for finding out which infection, specialists are still investigating.
Vasilou played football against other teams over the weekend. School leaders at Guilderland Central School District as well as Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake have addressed the issue.
Guilderland school officials said they are working with the Albany County Department of Health to gather the most accurate information for the community. They said all athletic events will take place as scheduled, and the school physician is available to offer advice to parents.
The district released a notice to parent saying, "If you have any concerns, or if your child is displaying symptoms of illness such as fever, rash, headache, or sore eyes, please contact your family physician. Additional information will be posted to the website as it becomes available."
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school officials said they are following the advice of their school physician and the Saratoga County Health Department and recommending that its varsity and junior varsity football players who attended Saturday's scrimmage receive a single dose of antibiotic as a preventive measure. They also said the football equipment and locker rooms have been disinfected.