At the present time there are no confirmed cases of bacterial meningitis involving a Allen ISD student at any campus. The district works closely with the Texas Department of State Health Services to ensure the prevention of communicable diseases in our schools and community.
There are two types of meningitis, bacterial and viral.
Viral meningitis does increase somewhat during the spring and summer as it is caused by a variety of viruses. While this virus can be spread among children in school, it very rarely causes serious illness, so there is no cause for alarm. There is no preventative medication that your child can take for viral meningitis, since antibiotics will not kill viral germs.
Bacterial meningitis is less common than viral meningitis, but is usually much more serious and can be life threatening if not treated promptly with antibiotics. There are vaccines available to guard against the bacteria that cause this type of meningitis.
Symptoms of both types of meningitis may include sudden onset of fever, upset stomach, headache and stiffness in the neck. Prevention comes down to good infection control and hand washing. Please consult your health care provider if you feel your student has the above symptoms.
What is meningitis? Meningitis is an illness in which there is inflammation of the tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord. Viral or "aseptic" meningitis, which is the most common type, is caused by an infection with one of several types of viruses. Meningitis can also be caused by infections with several types of bacteria or fungi. In the United States, there are between 25,000 and 50,000 hospitalizations due to viral meningitis each year.
Is viral meningitis a serious disease? Viral ("aseptic") meningitis is serious but rarely fatal in persons with normal immune systems. Usually, the symptoms last from 7 to 10 days and the patient recovers completely. Bacterial meningitis, on the other hand, can be very serious and result in disability or death if not treated promptly. Often, the symptoms of viral meningitis and bacterial meningitis are the same. For this reason, if you think you or your child has meningitis, see your doctor as soon as possible.
What causes viral meningitis? Many different viruses can cause meningitis. About 90% of cases of viral meningitis are caused by members of a group of viruses known as enteroviruses, such as coxsackieviruses and echoviruses. These viruses are more common during summer and fall months. Herpesviruses and the mumps virus can also cause viral meningitis.
How is viral meningitis diagnosed? Viral meningitis is usually diagnosed by laboratory tests of spinal fluid obtained with a spinal tap. The specific cause of viral meningitis can be determined by tests that identify the virus in specimens collected from the patient, but these tests are rarely done.
How is viral meningitis treated? No specific treatment for viral meningitis exists at this time. Most patients completely recover on their own. Doctors often will recommend bed rest, plenty of fluids, and medicine to relieve fever and headache.
How is the virus spread? Enteroviruses, the most common cause of viral meningitis, are most often spread through direct contact with respiratory secretions (e.g., saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus) of an infected person. This usually happens by shaking hands with an infected person or touching something they have handled, and then rubbing your own nose or mouth. The virus can also be found in the stool of persons who are infected. The virus is spread through this route mainly among small children who are not yet toilet trained. It can also be spread this way to adults changing the diapers of an infected infant. The incubation period for enteroviruses is usually between 3 and 7 days from the time you are infected until you develop symptoms. You can usually spread the virus to someone else beginning about 3 days after you are infected until about 10 days after you develop symptoms.
Can I get viral meningitis if I’m around someone who has it? The viruses that cause viral meningitis are contagious. Enteroviruses, for example, are very common during the summer and early fall, and many people are exposed to them. However, most infected persons either have no symptoms or develop only a cold or rash with low-grade fever. Only a small proportion of infected persons actually develop meningitis. Therefore, if you are around someone who has viral meningitis, you have a moderate chance of becoming infected, but a very small chance of developing meningitis.
For more information, please visit the Texas Department of State Health Services for further information at www.dshs.state.tx.us