Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Meningitis and MRSA in the Schools

Here’s a roundup of school infections.

Chicago--A middle school student was hospitalized with bacterial meningitis. District officials immediately notified parents about the student's illness. According to a letter sent to parents, the student's infection was caused by meningococcus, a bacterium that can cause meningitis. Meningitis is an inflammation of the tissues covering the brain and spinal cord. The district said that the disease is not highly contagious and not transmitted by routine classroom contact.

New York—Three students in three different Long Island schools and two students in two other Long Island schools have contacted viral meningitis and MRSA respectively.

According to the CDC, MRSA is usually transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact, from infected surfaces or by sharing towels and other personal items. Lesions can be among the symptoms.The two elementary students were admitted to a local hospital earlier this week after complaints of fever and headaches, where they were held overnight for observation and then released, A night custodian at the elementary school was also diagnosed with viral meningitis just before the start of the school year.

While unlikely to be spread through casual contact, the viruses that cause the disease can be passed by shaking hands with an infected person or touching something they have handled. Viral meningitis is serious but rarely fatal in normal immune systems. Health and school officials warn parents to watch for symptoms such as fever, headache, stiff neck and lethargy.

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