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One case of bacterial meningitis has been confirmed in a second-grade girl at Clifty Creek Elementary, and the school is taking precautions to ensure that no other students or staff members become infected.
It’s the first case of bacterial meningitis, which is potentially fatal, in the county since 2004, according to the Bartholomew County Health Department.
Teachers and students who might have been in close contact with the girl have been told to see a physician to determine whether antibiotic treatment is necessary.
Health officials said the risk of contracting the infection through casual contact is low but encouraged parents to watch children for symptoms of meningitis, which can include fever, headache, stiff neck, confusion and rash, said Dr. Roy Goode, physician for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.
The parent of one kindergartner kept her daughter home Monday, but school officials said they knew of no other absences related to the case.
The child who contracted meningitis is being treated at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and was showing improvement Monday, said Larry Perkinson, student assistance coordinator for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.
“First and foremost, we want this young lady to get better, and we wish the best to her,” he said.
Bacterial meningitis, spread primarily through saliva, is more severe than viral meningitis and can result in brain damage, hearing loss or learning disabilities, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The district worked with the Bartholomew County Health Department and Columbus Regional Hospital to determine how to respond, Perkinson said.
The school sent letters to families alerting them to the case of meningitis, informing them how the bacteria are spread and providing a list of symptoms.
Individuals who develop symptoms should see a doctor immediately or be taken to the emergency room. Antibiotic treatment of the disease is usually successful, especially if it is started early after symptoms begin, Goode said.
Perkinson said the student who contracted meningitis is in a split class that shares two classrooms. He said the school paid special attention to cleaning the rooms after the illness was confirmed.
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