Health officials say bacterial meningitis killed a 10-year-old girl in the Panhandle, and they're trying to locate five families whose children may have had direct contact with her.
Jessica Lee was a fifth-grader at Rhodes Elementary School in Milton. She died last Friday at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola. She had been in school only two day earlier. No new cases have been reported so far this week.
Bacterial meningitis is highly contagious and considered more dangerous than the viral form of the disease. It can cause brain damage, hearing loss and death. Symptoms include headache, fever, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting.
About 130 children and teachers thought to have had direct contact with Jessica in class, a chorus group and on her school bus. They've been given a preventive treatment of an antibiotic.
The Santa Rosa County Health Department has so far found all but five families. Officials say three families are in the military and could have moved away.
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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)