By Audrey Caro
Lebanon Local

A second-grade student at Green Acres Elementary School was treated for and is now recovering from meningococcal disease.

The district was notified the morning of Jan. 20 but there was a three-day window to confirm the disease, said Lebanon Community School District Superintendent Rob Hess.

Parents of Green Acres students received a letter from Linn County Health Officer William Muth on Jan. 23, Hess said.

“Linn County Public Health is following up on a case of meningococcal (bacterial) meningitis in a second grade student at Green Acres Elementary School,” Muth said in the letter. “Meningococcal disease is not highly contagious, but close contacts of cases are at higher risk and should get antibiotics to prevent disease.

“Local public health nurses are required to investigate each case and recommend antibiotics as needed. Public Health is working with the school to identify those students and staff with close, face-to-face contact generally defined as those with direct, close contact to the ill child for at least four hours between Jan. 9, 2018 and Jan. 12, 2018.”

Muth noted that Linn County Public Health would contact parents of the identified students and staff and would recommend they take preventative antibiotics.

“Unless identified as significantly exposed, other classmates do not require medication because they are not considered close contacts,” Muth said.

Debby Uri, Linn County Communicable Disease Nurse, said there have been two cases of meningococcal in children reported in Linn County since the beginning of the year. One is the student at Green Acres. Uri said she could not give information about the other instance which was reported earlier in the month.

Uri said both cases were serogroup C.

She did say that it is rare to contract the illness.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, prevention measures include washing hands with soap and water or 70 percent alcohol-based hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes with tissues (and washing hands after), coughing or sneezing into your elbow.

Symptoms parents can look for that are different from those of the flu include a stiff neck, an unexplained high fever, vomiting, headache and a rash in the area where the elastic part of underwear and socks contacts the skin, Uri said.

Parents who notice these symptoms should immediately seek medical attention, she said.

“Those who are treated promptly with antibiotics usually do well,” Muth said.

About meningococcal disease

Muth included the following information about meningococcal disease

Meningococcal disease is caused by Neisseria meningitidis, a bacterium that lives in the noses and throats of 5 percent to 10 percent of the population. It causes serious disease only if it enters the blood stream and spreads through the body. Meningococcal meningitis occurs when the bacteria causes inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Call Public Health at 541-967-3888, ext. 2488 if you have questions.

Click here to view Muth’s letter: School Letter Linn County Health

Click here for more information about meningococcal disease.

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