February 12

Death of 6-year-old Maine girl spurs outpouring of support

Evalise M. McLean, a Berwick first-grader, apparently died of bacterial meningitis, which, officials assure other parents, is not contagious.

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The Berwick community is rallying behind the family of a young girl who died last week after contracting what is believed to be bacterial meningitis.

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This screen shot shows the page for Evalise McLean on GoFundMe.

Friends of the family of 6-year-old Evalise M. McLean, a first-grader at the Hussey School in Berwick, have established a fund on GoFundMe.

As of late Tuesday night, the online fundraising effort had raised more than $31,000 to help McLean’s parents, Patrice and Lenroy, with expenses.

The GoFundMe Web page dedicated to McLean (http://www.gofundme.com/6qpxfo) says she died from bacterial meningitis. But in a statement issued to the Berwick school community, SAD 60 Superintendent Steven B. Connolly said additional tests will be conducted to determine a final cause of death. The statement was posted Saturday on the district’s website.

“Regretfully, I must inform you of a sad event one of our families is experiencing at this time. One of our Hussey School first-grade students passed away this week. Additional tests are still pending to determine a final cause of death,” Connolly said in the statement. “There is no recommendation for any medication to staff or students.”

Connolly said he consulted with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and an infectious disease specialist in Boston, who assured him “that the infectious disease poses no risk to the community.”

Dr. Stephen Sears, the state’s epidemiologist, said his office was contacted about the girl’s condition last week. It was determined that the state would not have to intervene.

Sears said bacterial meningitis is not contagious, adding that “this was a very tragic situation.”

Sears said other bacterial strains, such as meningococcal disease, can be contagious. Officials have determined that type of disease did not affect Evalise.

“Parents don’t need to worry. It is not something that can be transmitted to other people,” he said of bacterial meningitis.

A tribute posted on SeacoastOnline’s website says a memorial service for Evalise will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Red Barn at Outlook Farm, an event and function center at 310 Portland Road in South Berwick. The tribute says everyone is welcome and encourages the public to make donations to the Intensive Care Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: dhoey@pressherald.com

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