We have learned of a possible case of meningitis at Walker-Grant Center. Meningitis is a broad term that refers to an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and/or brain. There are two main types of meningitis: viral or bacterial; and the treatment and community precautions necessary depend on which type is diagnosed. Diagnosis of meningitis is done by a physician with a medical history of symptoms and culture of spinal fluid. Lab results can take up to 72 hours.
Viral meningitis can be caused by a variety of viruses, is relatively common, and is generally not serious. If a diagnosis of viral meningitis is made, contacts of the patient will not require preventive treatment.
Bacterial meningitis is usually caused by one of three bacteria. Although all three are serious infections, they do not all require preventive treatment of contacts. In cases of meningococcal meningitis, treatment will be recommended for all close contacts, including household members, family, and close friends. Meningitis due to Haemophilus influenzae only requires preventive treatment for a specific serotype, Type B. Even then, treatment may only be recommended for households with very young children, or if multiple cases are diagnosed. The final type of bacterial meningitis is due to pneumococcal bacteria. In cases of pneumococcal meningitis, no preventive treatment is recommended for contacts. Vaccines are available that protect against these meningitis bacteria. In particular, all children should receive the H. influenzae Type B vaccine as infants.
When more information about this case of meningitis is available, affected families will be contacted by the school or local health department with recommendations. If you do not hear from either of these, it was determined that your child was not a contact.
Symptoms of all types of meningitis include abrupt onset of chills, fever, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, and rash. Contact your health care provider if your child develops any of the above symptoms in the coming days, and inform the physician that your child may have had contact with an individual with an unknown type of meningitis.