Downtown Miami daycare closes amid meningitis scare after 2 toddlers die

MIAMI (WSVN) - A daycare center in Downtown Miami closed its doors after, officials said, two toddlers died within a week of each other, sparking a serious health scare.

The Florida Department of Health sent a letter to parents at the YWCA Carol Glassman Donaldson Childcare Center last week letting them know a 22-month-old had been diagnosed with meningitis.

“It’s just tremendously unfortunate,” said Jose Galan, assistant director at Miami-Dade County’s Internal Services Department.

Health Department officials said that boy died Dec. 3, and a 2-year-old boy who also went to the center died this past Sunday. However, the latter child’s official cause of death is still undetermined.

In a phone interview with 7News, Dr. Alvaro Mejia-Echeverry, an epidemiologist with the Florida Health Department, said both boys had been hospitalized for respiratory illness.

“One of them was finally diagnosed as meningitis,” said Mejia-Echeverry. “The other child, we know that he had pneumonia, but they are studying him for further infections, or they are studying the specimens that they collected.”

Fifty-five children go to the daycare, located in the area of Northwest Third Street and Second Avenue, just feet from Miami-Dade County’s main building.

The YWCA rents the space from the county and decided to close Tuesday as a safety precaution. “They decided, when they were contacted yesterday by the state, both agencies from the state to voluntarily close,” said Galan.

It’s still too early to tell if the second child died from meningitis, as well as whether both deaths are connected or just an incredibly tragic coincidence.

Officials said the boys were not in the same class, but they’re reminding parents to be on the lookout.

Meningitis is extremely contagious and can be deadly if not treated early. Symptoms are fever, severe headache, stiff neck, nausea, confusion and drowsiness.

“If any child that attends that daycare develops symptoms like the ones we relayed in the letter, they should take them to the pediatrician,” said Mejia-Echeverry. “If the symptoms seem to be a little severe — that the child is ill looking, ill appearing — they should take them either to the pediatrician or the emergency room,” said Mejia-Echeverry.

Meanwhile, the Health Department and the Florida Department of Children and Families are waiting for test results from the two toddlers to learn more about what led to their deaths.

As officials try to figure out how and where the 22-month-old boy contracted meningitis, health officials will examine the daycare facility.

“The State Department of Health and the State Department of Children and Families will jointly come out here tomorrow, do an inspection of the facility, and they’ll decide when the facility can open,” said Galan.

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