Elementary School Meningitis

A second grade student at May Howard Elementary school is recovering from a serious illness, viral meningitis. School officials got word of the diagnosis yesterday and have been working nonstop to prevent others from getting it. WTOC spoke with school officials, who say the little boy is doing better, but it has been a hectic day at May Howard.

"We put our custodial staff on alert to begin the disinfecting process, which is above and beyond what we normally do on a school day," said Meredith Brown, the school's principal.

It's been a busy week for doctors as well. Pediatrician Dr. Ben Spitalnick has seen lots of unhappy children with many of the same symptoms. Including fevers, coughs, and runny noses. Most of them are viruses. "Your child could very well be exposed to the virus, could very well catch the virus, doesn't mean they're going to get meningitis," he told us.

Dr. Ben says because the viral meningitis is so contagious, many people can and will catch a virus of some sort. "A lot of folks can have a very mild meningitis and not even know it. They'll just have a little headache, a fever, and it goes away by itself."

The doctor and school officials say to watch your children's symptoms closely and constantly stress one important thing: "Moms and dads, please please remember with the hand washings," May Howard's Brown advised.

Here are the symptoms to watch for: a painfully stiff neck and severe headache, vomiting, seizures, confusion and dizziness, bright light causing eye pain, and a skin rash. And again, the most important preventative measure is to wash your hands.

Reported by: Elizabeth Garcia, egarcia@wtoc.com