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West Bend School District dealing with confirmed case of bacterial meningitis

Feb. 24, 2019 – West Bend, WI – Parents with students at Fair Park Elementary School in West Bend have been notified about a staff member at the school that has a confirmed case of bacterial meningitis.
A portion of a note from the West Bend School District reads:
After consultation with our district registered nurses and director of facilities custodians have completed an additional thorough cleaning and sanitation of the school using hospital-grade cleaning agents.
Please note that our district nurse may contact your family about a need for exclusion from school based on age students immunization history.
The Fair Park staff will continue to encourage good hygiene practices such as regular and thorough handwashing among our entire student and staff population.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:Bacterial meningitis is very serious and can be deadly. Death can occur in as little as a few hours. Most people recover from meningitis. However, permanent disabilities (such as brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities) can result from the infection.

There are several types of bacteria that can cause meningitis. Leading causes in the United States include

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Group B Streptococcus
  • Neisseria meningitidis
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Listeria monocytogenes

On average, bacterial meningitis caused about 4,100 cases and 500 deaths in the United States each year between 2003 and 2007.* [1]

These bacteria can also be associated with another serious illness, sepsis. Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection that can cause tissue damage, organ failure, and death.

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Causes

Common causes of bacterial meningitis vary by age group:

  • Newborns: Group B Streptococcus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli
  • Babies and children: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), group B Streptococcus
  • Teens and young adults: Neisseria meningitidis, Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Older adults: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), group B Streptococcus, Listeria monocytogenes

 

Risk Factors

Certain people are at increased risk for bacterial meningitis. Some risk factors include:

  • Age
    • Babies are at increased risk for bacterial meningitis compared to people in other age groups. However, people of any age can develop bacterial meningitis. See section above for which bacteria more commonly affect which age groups.
  • Community setting
    • Infectious diseases tend to spread where large groups of people gather together. College campuses have reported outbreaks of meningococcal disease, caused by N. meningitidis.
  • Certain medical conditions
    • There are certain medical conditions, medications, and surgical procedures that put people at increased risk for meningitis.
  • Working with meningitis-causing pathogens
    • Microbiologists routinely exposed to meningitis-causing bacteria are at increased risk for meningitis.
  • Travel
    • Travelers may be at increased risk for meningococcal disease, caused by N. meningitidis, if they travel to certain places, such as:
      • The meningitis belt in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly during the dry season
      • Mecca during the annual Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage
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How it Spreads

Generally, the germs that cause bacterial meningitis spread from one person to another. Certain germs, such as Listeria monocytogenes, can spread through food.

How people spread the germs often depends on the type of bacteria. It is also important to know that people can carry these bacteria in or on their bodies without being sick. These people are “carriers.” Most carriers never become sick, but can still spread the bacteria to others.

Here are some of the most common examples of how people spread each type of bacteria to each other:

  • Mothers can pass group B Streptococcus and Escherichia coli to their babies during labor and birth.
  • People spread Hib and Streptococcus pneumoniae by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who breathe in the bacteria.
  • People spread Neisseria meningitidis by sharing respiratory or throat secretions (saliva or spit). This typically occurs during close (coughing or kissing) or lengthy (living in the same household) contact.
  • People can get Escherichia coli by eating food prepared by people who did not wash their hands well after using the toilet.

People usually get sick from Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes by eating contaminated food.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. Typically they develop within 3 to 7 days after exposure

Later symptoms of bacterial meningitis can be very serious (e.g., seizures, coma). For this reason, anyone who thinks they may have meningitis should see a doctor as soon as possible.

For more information from the CDC click HERE.

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