Meningitis case found at JTA

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By Kelly Richardson


By KELLY RICHARDSON krichardson@thenewsenterprise.com

VINE GROVE — A case of invasive meningococcal disease was diagnosed Sunday in a J.T. Alton Middle School student, the Lincoln Trail District Health Department reports.

The student is in stable condition at Hardin Memorial Hospital, which reported the case to the health department. The health department is working to identify others who could have the disease.

The disease is a severe bacterial infection of the bloodstream and sometimes the thin lining covering the brain and spinal cord. It’s a rare disease that usually affects children or young adults, and it usually occurs in one isolated incident, said Wendy Keown, director of outreach services at the health department.

Symptoms can include fever, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, irritability, lack of appetite and sometimes a rash, the department said.

The disease is spread through direct contact with nasal or oral secretions, so only close contacts, such as people who live with someone with the disease, or have eaten and drank after them, likely would be at risk. Keown said the health department is working on identifying those individuals and aren’t expecting the disease to spread. Close contacts who could be infected can be treated with antibiotics.

About 2,600 people get this disease every year in the U.S, and even with antibiotics, about 10 to 15 percent of patients die, Keown said. Those who live can have problems such as loss of hearing or a limb or a neurological disability.

Vaccines to help prevent the infection are available.

For more information, contact the health department at (270) 769-1601.

What are the symptoms?   Most common symptoms include:

  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Malaise
  • Rash

If the person has meningococcal disease they may also have:

  • Stiff neck
  • Headache
  • Seizures

If an overwhelming infection is present:

  • Shock
  • Coma
  • Rash called purpura that rapidly changes to purplish discolorations under the skin
  • Death can occur within hours

  Symptoms can develop in just a few hours or over one to two days. The disease can worsen rapidly, so it is important to be diagnosed and treated with antibiotics quickly.   Source: Lincoln Trail District Health Department.  

Kelly Richardson can be reached at (270) 505-1747.