Area parents are concerned about a case of meningitis that killed a Blakely, Georgia boy earlier this week.
At first Georgia Health officials thought the four-year-old boy died from a blood infection that has symptoms resembling meningitis.
But shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday, they confirmed that he died from memingococcal meningitis.
Many area doctors have received calls from parents whose children may have had contact with the little boy.
There are vaccines for the three different types of meningitis. However, the vaccine for the strain that killed the little boy is not given very often.
Doctors warn parents to be on the lookout for symptoms such as severe headaches, stiffness in the neck, a high fever or a rash that looks like bleeding under the skin.
Georgia health officials have also confirmed his sister has been diagnosed with neisseria meningitis and has been reported to be doing well.
Apparently the young boy had been in Dale County all day Saturday. He attended a car wash and a church fair.
According to a Dale County woman who was at Cedar Grove Baptist Church and whose son is on medication for meningitis exposure, the young boy was bobbing for apples with other children.
Parents became concerned because of the possible exchange of saliva.
Dale County health officials told parents they do not believe the children will catch the disease, even though they took part in the activity, but they are treating those who came into extremely close contact with the boy.
Health officials are encouraging anyone who believes they could have been exposed or has any concerns to give them a call at 334-774-5146.
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What is Meningitis
- Meningitis is the inflammation of the tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord.
- Bacterial meningitis is generally more serious.
- While meningococcal disease is the main cause of bacterial meningitis, there are many other types including pneumococcal, Hib, Group B streptococcal and others.
How do you contract Meningitis
- At any given time in the U.S., one person in 10 will be carrying the bacteria that can cause meningococcal meningitis or septicaemia.
- We carry them in the back of our nose and throat without ever realizing they are there.
- In a few people the bacteria overcome the body’s immune defenses and pass through the lining of the nose and throat into the blood stream.
- Once in the blood, they can cause two types of infection; meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia.
- Scientists do not yet fully understand why a few people develop meningitis or septicaemia from bacteria, which are harmless to most of us.
- Statistics show that children under the age of five, and young adults, have a higher risk of developing meningitis or septicaemia, although anyone can get these diseases.
- The bacteria are very weak and can only survive for a short period of time outside the body.
- The bacteria cannot live long in the air and are not carried on household objects such as clothes, furniture or toys.
- To contract meningitis, you must be in very close contact with someone before the bacteria can pass between you, and even then it is unlikely that you will develop meningitis because most of us have natural resistance to the bacteria.
Can Meningitis be treated?
- Meningitis can be treated. However, because it develops extremely rapidly, it is important to know the signs and symptoms, and to get medical help quickly if you think that someone has either of these diseases.
- At least 95 percent of people recover from meningococcal meningitis, but the recovery rate in patients with meningococcal septicaemia can be as low as 50 percent, depending on the severity of the disease .
- Both types of infection can kill very quickly if not recognized and treated in time.
Signs and symptoms of Meningitis
- Rash (although not present in all cases)
- Losing consciousness
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck
- Dislike of bright lights
Babies may also suffer from:
- Tense or bulging soft spot on the baby's head
- Blotchy skin, getting paler or turning blue
- Refusing to feed
- Irritable when picked up, with a high pitched or moaning cry
- A stiff body with jerky movements, or else floppy and lifeless
Source: http://www.meningitis.org/index.html (the Meningitis Research Foundation Web site)