BOSTON (WHDH) - A healthy toddler became suddenly sick when he and another child contracted a rare but serious infectious disease in Boston.

Kimberly Cook says her 20-month-old son Lucas was a happy, healthy boy just days ago when he attended daycare at Horizons for Homeless Children in Dorchester last Friday. On Sunday, he woke up sick and his condition quickly went downhill.

“It was extremely scary,” Cook said. “Within an hour, everything had changed. He had developed this purple rash all over his body.

His mother rushed him to the emergency room at Boston Children’s Hospital, where doctors diagnosed Lucas with meningococcal disease — an infectious disease that is caused by a bacterial infection.

“We’ve been fighting since Sunday night with the fact that at any time we could’ve lost my child,” Cook said.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Public Health Commission issued a health advisory Wednesday after Lucas and another child in Boston contracted the disease.

“We are concerned about it leading to meningitis,” Walsh said. “We have been able to ID the two. They’ve gotten antibiotics. They’ve been treated.”

Both cases have been associated with Horizons for Homeless Children daycare centers specializing in serving children who have experienced homelessness — thought it’s unclear if the two cases are connected.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Horizons for Homeless Children said, “Boston Public Health Commission has made us aware that two of our students, from separate locations, have been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. We do not know if these cases are related, but we are working closely with BPHC and have taken all recommended precautions to protect our students and staff at these locations. At this point, we would defer inquiries to BPHC.”

City officials noted that all individuals who are known to have been in contact with the kids have been identified and received antibiotics as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of further infection.

Health officials say the disease is spread from person to person through saliva, requiring close contact with infected individuals. Time from exposure to developing symptoms is between one to 10 days.

Symptoms develop rapidly and include nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, and altered mental status or confusion.

Meningococcal disease has become less common in recent years, with between 10 to 15 reported cases statewide each year. There are several different forms of meningococcal disease, including infection of the blood and infection of the brain and spinal cord, known as meningitis.

Early detection and initiation of antibiotics for suspected meningococcal disease is critically important.

There are safe and effective vaccines available to prevent infection from the most common forms of meningococcal disease and residents are encouraged to speak with their health care provider about vaccination options.

Any resident with questions about meningococcal disease can call BPHC at (617) 534-5611.

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