Meningitis in Jackson County?

By: Hermelinda Vargas
By: Hermelinda Vargas

Health officials confirm that two Marianna Middle School students have likely been infected with the contagious and potentially dangerous disease, viral meningitis, but they say there is no cause for alarm.

Lucille Speights isn't panicking, but she is concerned. She stopped by the school Thursday to find out if she should worry about her son.

"He just said he was itching and had a couple of bumps, and so my concern was I was going to go and have it checked out,” Speights says.

Vicki Fuqua is also worried, not so much for her grandson who lives with her, but more for her husband because of his relatively weaker immune system.

"His grandfather has multiple-myaloma and some other things that compromise his immune system and so that scares me even more,” says Fuqua.

According to information sent to parents on Wednesday, viral meningitis can be more dangerous to people with weaker immune systems and some of its symptoms do include a cold or rash with a low-grade fever, but officials say they don't expect any more students to get sick because of precautions they took immediately after they got word of the two infected students.

"We had custodians from other schools here in Marianna to come in yesterday afternoon and assist our custodial staff in wiping down everything that we could put our hands on with a solution of bleach and water,” explains Marianna Middle School Principal Randy Ward.

Even so, school and health officials say there is no way to know for sure if other students may become infected, but they say they are encouraged by what has been relayed as two minor cases of Viral Meningitis.

Viral meningitis symptoms include:
- fever
-severe headache
-stiff neck
-bright lights hurt eyes
-nausea and vomiting

Good prevention:
-frequent and thorough hand-washing
-cleaning exposed areas with bleach and water (1 capful of bleach to 1 gallon of water)

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What is Meningitis

  • Meningitis is the inflammation of the tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord.

  • Bacterial meningitis is generally more serious.

  • While meningococcal disease is the main cause of bacterial meningitis, there are many other types including pneumococcal, Hib, Group B streptococcal and others.

How do you contract Meningitis

  • At any given time in the U.S., one person in 10 will be carrying the bacteria that can cause meningococcal meningitis or septicaemia.

  • We carry them in the back of our nose and throat without ever realizing they are there.

  • In a few people the bacteria overcome the body’s immune defenses and pass through the lining of the nose and throat into the blood stream.

  • Once in the blood, they can cause two types of infection; meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia.

  • Scientists do not yet fully understand why a few people develop meningitis or septicaemia from bacteria, which are harmless to most of us.

  • Statistics show that children under the age of five, and young adults, have a higher risk of developing meningitis or septicaemia, although anyone can get these diseases.

  • The bacteria are very weak and can only survive for a short period of time outside the body.

  • The bacteria cannot live long in the air and are not carried on household objects such as clothes, furniture or toys.

  • To contract meningitis, you must be in very close contact with someone before the bacteria can pass between you, and even then it is unlikely that you will develop meningitis because most of us have natural resistance to the bacteria.

Can Meningitis be treated?

  • Meningitis can be treated. However, because it develops extremely rapidly, it is important to know the signs and symptoms, and to get medical help quickly if you think that someone has either of these diseases.

  • At least 95 percent of people recover from meningococcal meningitis, but the recovery rate in patients with meningococcal septicaemia can be as low as 50 percent, depending on the severity of the disease .

  • Both types of infection can kill very quickly if not recognized and treated in time.

Signs and symptoms of Meningitis

  • Rash (although not present in all cases)
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Losing consciousness
  • Severe headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Dislike of bright lights

Babies may also suffer from:

  • Tense or bulging soft spot on the baby's head
  • Blotchy skin, getting paler or turning blue
  • Refusing to feed
  • Irritable when picked up, with a high pitched or moaning cry
  • A stiff body with jerky movements, or else floppy and lifeless

Source: http://www.meningitis.org/index.html (the Meningitis Research Foundation Web site)


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