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For Release:  March 11, 2010
Contact: Leslea Bennett-Webb
Office of Communications
405/271-5601     

Meningococcal Cases Investigated in Oologah Elementary School

Officials from the Rogers County Health Department and Oklahoma State Department of Health are investigating potential cases of meningococcal disease in the Oologah-Talala elementary public school.

Four children have become ill with symptoms and one child has died. Laboratory testing has confirmed at least one case of meningococcal disease and tests are pending on the other three.

As a preventive measure, local and state health department personnel are on site working with school officials today to offer antibiotics to lower elementary school children and close contacts with cases. Parental consent will be required.

Public health officials stress that the general public is not at risk.  Only persons who have had close, personal contact to a person with a meningococcal infection have a slightly increased risk of developing the disease. 

Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis.  Many healthy people carry meningococcal bacteria in their nose and throat without any symptoms.  Usually, the bacteria stay in the nose and throat for a few days and will then disappear.  The bacteria are spread from person-to-person by direct contact with secretions from the nose and throat.  The reason that the organism disappears in some people and produces illness in others is not clearly understood but is probably related to individual susceptibility.

Sixteen cases of meningococcal disease were reported in Oklahoma during 2009 with one death. Thus far in 2010, five cases were reported with one death. (these cases are not connected to current investigation.)

The symptoms may appear two to ten days after infection, but usually appear within three to four days.  People ill with meningococcal septicemia may have fever, nausea, vomiting, and a rash.  People that are ill with meningitis will have fever, intense headache, nausea, vomiting, and a stiff neck.  It is important to seek care from a physician as soon as possible if these symptoms appear.

Rifampin is the antibiotic generally prescribed for those with close contact.  It eliminates the bacteria from the nose and throat of persons carrying it, which may help protect contacts from developing a meningococcal infection. 

Follow this link for more information on meningococcal disease.

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