Carbon County meningitis case not contagious

2/25/2019

Recently completed hospital laboratory testing has confirmed there is no public health concern related to a previously described Carbon County meningitis case, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.

Hospital laboratory work involving the Carbon County student described in communications shared last week by local school representatives has established the presence of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, or pneumococcus.

 “We know the kind of bacteria confirmed with this student can cause many types of infections, including meningitis,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH. “However, we want people to know this form of meningitis is not considered contagious. There is no heightened reason for Carbon County families to be worried because of this student’s illness.”

“When we’re ill with a cold or flu virus, we are sometimes more vulnerable to bacterial infections,” Harrist explained. “The particular type of bacteria involved with this student is the same that often causes ear and sinus infections, as well as sometimes pneumonia and, in rare cases, meningitis.”

Meningitis is an infection of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord that doctors treat with antibiotics. “While relatively rare, meningitis must be taken seriously because it can be deadly. It is important to start treatment as soon as possible,” Harrist said.

Meningitis symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache and stiff neck. Other possible symptoms include nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and confusion.

There are several types of bacterial meningitis, and only one form, caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, is viewed as a limited public health concern.

Harrist said the most effective way to help prevent most types of bacterial meningitis is vaccination.

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