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PHS student recovering from life-threatening blood infection

Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 4:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 4:02 p.m.

Christopher Pozzi's family is breathing a huge sigh of relief as the 17-year-old Petaluma High School student prepares to return to school about two weeks after he was hospitalized with a highly contagious, life-threatening blood infection.

Christopher will try to attend school on a part-time basis on Thursday and Friday this week said his mother, Maria Pozzi.

Christopher fell ill with bacteria Neisseria meningitidis, an illness spread through saliva that can lead to meningitis, on Feb. 16. He'd been fine 12 hours before, Maria Pozzi said.

He had gone out with friends the night before and spent the night at a close friend's house, she said. The friend called her at around noon the next day to tell her that Christopher had white lips, was shivering and not making any sense.

She took him to Petaluma Valley Hospital, where doctors first tried to determine if Christopher had been given something bad to eat or drink. When he started showing more serious signs, they got him started on an antibiotic right away and called for a helicopter to take him to Oakland, Pozzi said.

"They told us at Oakland that if PVH had not started him on medication and made sure he was airlifted, he wouldn't have made it," Maria Pozzi said.

Even though the disease is often deadly, Christopher made a quick recovery once he received treatment for his illness and was out of the hospital in 8 days rather than the 14 doctors predicted.

A factor that could have helped in his recovery is the fact that he had received an immunization for meningitis, which could have strengthened his body's ability to fight the illness, Pozzi said.

Now, he's building his lungs back up after being on an air tube, Maria Pozzi said.

She was not too worried about Christopher's ability to catch up on schoolwork, saying, "he's got good teachers and lots of support from the school district."

She urged parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of sharing food and drink.

"They think nothing of it," she said, adding that it remains a mystery how Christopher contracted the illness.

School and health officials reacted quickly after Christopher fell ill, issuing an alert about the highly contagious disease. To date, there are no other reported instances of the illness in Petaluma.

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