Health Department Warns of Bacterial Meningitis Infection - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/08/07

Health Department Warns of Bacterial Meningitis Infection

Update from the Chatham County Health Department:

August 9, 2007 Update

  • - The Health Department has confirmed one case of meningococcal meningitis
  • - There are two other suspect cases; Public Health is investigating those cases and that investigation will require further sophisticated laboratory testing. We are working in collaboration with our State PH lab.
  • - The Health Department continues to provide preventive therapy to those children and counselors identified as close contacts to the confirmed case and suspect cases. Over 300 children and counselors have been treated as of this afternoon.
  • - If your child attended the West Chatham YMCA from July 30th through Wednesday, August 8th please contact the Chatham or Effingham County Health Departments for further information and preventive antibiotic treatment.

The Chatham and Effingham County Health Departments have begun providing antibiotics and education at the West Chatham YMCA in Pooler to people who may have been exposed to bacterial meningitis. This after a child who attended summer camp there was diagnosed with the disease.

Libby Upchurch, a parent, said, "I pulled up to pick up my son from camp and somebody came up to the car and said, 'Are you picking up your child?' I said yes, they said, 'Well, you need to park. There's been a case of meningitis.'"

According to the Coastal Health District, "bacterial meningitis is an infection of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Bacterial meningitis can be quite severe and may result in death, brain damage, hearing loss or learning disability. However, if treated early, antibiotics can be effective against bacterial meningitis."

Dr. Diane Weems with the Chatham County Health Department said it can be serious, but preventable.  Dr. Weems was notified last night that there could be a possible case of meningitis at the West Chatham YMCA.

"This morning we followed up on it and confirmed the diagnosis," said Weems.

This means every child that came in close contact with the child needed to be treated.

"They just kind of quickly told us what was going on," said Upchurch. "Nothing to be too concerned about because there doing preventative measures by giving us the two days' worth of antibiotics."

The infected child is being treated at a local hospital.

The YMCA and Chatham County Health Department are working to identify and treat the 270 children and 30 counselors who may have been exposed.  This may seem like an aggressive approach, but Weems said they just don't want to take any chances, and that parents should not panic.

"Right now we have no indication that any of the young people we are seeing today are contagious with anything," said Dr. Weems.

Even though today was alarming, parents say this kind of thing just happens.

"You can't protect yourself from everything and he needs the activities the camps provide," said Upchurch. "YMCA does provide a good program, so it's not like I am going to keep him out of camp for the rest of the summer."

While some of the children who attended the camp are also starting school in Effingham County this week, the health department feels at this time that treatment is only necessary for close contacts from the camp and the family members of the ill child. However, the Effingham County Health Department is working with school nurses and notifying parents.

For more on bacterial meningitis, go to:

http://www.gachd.org/hot-topic/bacterial_meningitis.php

Contact the WTOC News team

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