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For Release:  March 17, 2010
Contact: Leslea Bennett-Webb
Office of Communications
405/271-5601
405/684-3920

Situation Update No. 8 
Public Health Officials Working to Stop Spread of Meningococcal Disease in Oologah-Talala Public Schools

Officials from the Rogers County Health Department and Oklahoma State Department of Health announced today that they believe measures are in place to stop the spread of meningococcal disease in the Oologah-Talala public schools.

Preventative antibiotics, the first step in providing protection and stopping the immediate spread of meningococcal bacteria, have been provided to more than 1,000 students and others in the community. To protect persons from future exposures to the disease, two special vaccination clinics are scheduled for this Friday, March 19, from noon to 7 p.m., and Saturday, March 20, from 9 a.m. till 2 p.m. at the Oologah-Talala Lower Elementary School. These clinics are designated only for students pre-K through seniors attending Oologah-Talala public schools, as well as district faculty and employees. There will be no charge for the vaccine. Children who previously received antibiotics for disease prevention in the past week are still recommended to get the vaccine.

In addition to the vaccine clinics, representatives from the Oklahoma State Department of Health and local health department staff will be on hand in the Upper Elementary Gymnasium to answer questions from the public and provide information materials on meningococcal disease.

State and local public health officials have investigated seven cases of meningococcal disease among students in the Oologah-Talala schools. Two children have died from the disease.  Those persons who have had close, personal contact to these cases and were determined to have an increased risk of developing the disease have been contacted and recommended preventative antibiotics.  Less than one percent of persons exposed to the bacteria develop symptoms. Although the general public is not at risk, they should be mindful of the importance of not sharing drinking glasses, water bottles, eating utensils, tissues, and lip gloss or lipsticks, in order to minimize the spread of disease.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease 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. If parents are unsure, they should still seek medical attention to protect their children.

While a meningococcal vaccine is available for protection against four of the five disease-causing strains of meningococcal disease for persons ages 2 through 55 years of age, it is routinely recommended by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices as only for children and adolescents 11 through 18 years of age. Children and adolescents in that age group can get the vaccine through the Vaccines for Children Program, a federally-funded state-operated program that provides vaccines at no cost to health care providers and county health departments to administer to eligible children.  To find a clinic or doctor near you that participates in the program, call your county health department.

For more information on meningococcal disease, visit the Oklahoma State Department of Health Web site at www.health.ok.gov and http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/about/faq.html .

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