SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A local high school student has died of a suspected meningococcal infection.
The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reports that the student, identified by friends as Jewelean Pimentel, a 9th grader at Patrick Henry High School, died Thursday night.
Friends of Jewelean are expressing their shock and sadness via social media over the loss of the star cheerleader.
She was a Girl Scout among other things and just getting started at Patrick Henry High School before her life was cut short.
Angelic photos of Jewelean are flooding social media as those who knew her share why they'll miss the smiling high school freshman.
One former coach wrote on Facebook, "Jewelean thank you so much for taking my classes and making me laugh. You've made an impact on my gym and especially myself. You will never be forgotten."
Like the green in her cheer force outfit - friends released green balloons into the sky a day after she passed away.
The 9th grader at Patrick Henry High school is suspected of suddenly falling victim to a meningococcal infection.
The star cheerleader became ill on Tuesday after school and by Thursday she was gone.
Patrick Henry High School sent out a letter to parents saying students who have not had close contact with Pimentel face a low-risk of infection.
County health officials say the disease spreads through close contact and symptoms include a distinct purple rash.
"Our sympathy goes out to the family of this student," said County public health officer, Wilma Wooten. "Parents should always be alert for any signs of infection in their children that could be caused by the meningococcal bacteria."
A tight-knit community mourns as health officials hope awareness of the vaccine preventable disease can save lives.
The time between exposure to the disease and the onset of symptoms is usually three to four days, though it could take up to 10 days.
This is the second case of possible meningococcal disease reported in the county in 2014 and the first death, according to the HHSA. The agency reported 16 cases and three deaths last year.
Symptoms may include fever, intense headache, lethargy, stiff neck, and a rash that does not change color under pressure. County health officials urge anyone who develops the symptoms to immediately contact a healthcare provider or go to an emergency department for evaluation.
A vaccine is available to prevent certain strains of meningococcal disease. The vaccine is routinely recommended for adolescents 11 to 18 years old and individuals with certain medical conditions.
Information about the disease is online at www.sdiz.org.