After a student's death from bacterial meningitis was reported Monday morning, Chicago school administrators closed Lindblom Math and Science Academy as a precaution. In a statement released Tuesday, Chicago Public Schools' chief executive officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett said there is no direct health risk to students or staff at the school located on the south side of Chicago. School administrators learned Tuesday that the student, Savon Smith, had died from meningitis.

Smith, 16 years old, was unresponsive Monday morning when his mother went to wake him. Nicole Smith, his mother, said her son had been complaining of headaches and was very tired the last few days. Smith said she never suspected that he was suffering from meningitis.

"He didn't have the stiff neck, he didn't have the rash," she told reporters. "He was tired. My son loved to eat. He didn't eat like he usually ate. And he just complained about the headache. But meningitis was the furthest thing from my mind."

Bacterial meningitis usually begins with headache and fever, which are common to many illnesses, making it difficult to diagnose at its earliest stage. Later symptoms include severe headache, stiff neck, and sometimes sensitivity to light. Eventually these symptoms can give way to confusion, lethargy, and sometimes seizures. Because symptoms can progress rapidly, some patients experience delirium or coma by the time they seek treatment.

Watchful waiting is never advised with meningitis; once it is suspected, a doctor should be consulted immediately.

"When the decision was made to close the school, we were not certain what sort of meningitis it was," said Principal Alan Mather to WGN-TV. "We did hear that it was a noncontagious form of bacterial meningitis and thought precaution is better. So a team is coming in today to scrub the school to make sure it is very clean."

Some people confuse viral meningitis, which goes away usually within three to 10 days essentially on its own, with life-threatening bacterial meningitis. The symptoms in the earliest stages may be similar, although with bacterial meningitis, a rash, nausea, vomiting, and sore throat can also occur. Hospitalization and antibiotics will cure bacterial meningitis, while in most cases only bed rest and sometime Tylenol are needed for viral meningitis.

Cases of bacterial meningitis are usually severe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though most people recover. In cases where death is averted, bacterial meningitis may cause varying degrees of brain damage, including hearing loss and mental retardation. Approximately 3,000 people in the U.S., or one in 100,000, are diagnosed with bacterial meningitis each year, with incidences usually peaking in the winter or early spring. Infants, children, college students, and the elderly are most likely to be diagnosed with the bacterial type. Those who show the general symptoms of meningitis during the summertime are more likely to have viral rather than bacterial meningitis.

The bacteria that cause meningitis are not as contagious as the common cold or the flu and are not spread by casual contact or by breathing the air where an infected person has been, according to the CDC. Symptoms typically develop within three to seven days after exposure.

About 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis, including 500 deaths, occurred in the U.S. each year between 2003 and 2007, reports CDC.