While final results have yet to be received, local health officials believe that a rare type of blood poisoning was responsible for the death of a 26-year-old Missoula man who died suddenly this week.
The lab work is still progressing, but it looks like it will confirm the initial diagnosis, said Brant Goode, the communicable disease intervention specialist at the Missoula City-County Health Department.
A Missoula police officer found the body of Raymond Benjamin Laidet III on Wednesday morning in his Roosevelt Street apartment after co-workers at the Missoula Federal Credit Union reported that he had not shown up at work. Authorities immediately ruled out foul play and requested an autopsy to determine the cause of Laidet's death.
Goode said it appears Laidet died from complications from a bacterial disease known as neisseria meningitidis. The bacteria is carried by many people, but rarely becomes active.
However, Goode said, if it does become active, it can be deadly, causing the blood poisoning disorder that health specialists believe killed Laidet. It also can cause meningitis, another disease that can be fatal.
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Preliminary lab work being conducted on samples of Laidet's blood has shown evidence of the blood poisoning, Goode said.
"We found something growing in it that we were looking for," he said. "But it will take more time to identify it specifically. It looks like blood poisoning. We still need further evidence to back up our initial diagnosis."
Laidet only began feeling ill the day before his body was found, Goode said. Symptoms associated with the blood poisoning include a high fever, extremely intense headache, nausea and vomiting.
Goode said that only people who were in very close contact with Laidet should be worried about possibly contracting the disease.