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For Release:                 March 12, 2010
Contact:                       Leslea Bennett-Webb/Larry Weatherford                                    
Office of Communications                                    


Situation Update No. 5 Phone Bank to Remain Open Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

State health officials announced today that the Oklahoma State Department of Health phone bank will be open Saturday, March 13th from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to provide information to the public regarding cases of meningococcal disease in the Oologah-Talala elementary school. Callers can dial toll-free 1-866-278-7134.  

 Rogers County health officials report that 160 people visited the Oologah-Talala lower elementary school gym today for information and to receive antibiotics.  Health officials arrived on site Thursday hours after learning that several cases of meningococcal disease occurred in students who attend the school.  More than 800 people received antibiotics over the two-day period.

With the Oologah-Talala school system closed through March 22nd for spring break, county health officials will provide services through the Rogers County Health Department, 2664 N Highway 88, Claremore, 918/ 341-3166 during regular office hours beginning Monday.

No new cases have been confirmed.  In addition to the six cases previously reported, health officials will continue to investigate possible contacts and possible cases.  Two children have died from the disease.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health phone bank has been open since Thursday in response to reports of meningococcal disease among several students in the Oologah-Talala elementary school. The hotline received more than 200 calls Friday and has handled more than 250 calls since opening.

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.

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,   ceftriaxone and ciprofloxacin may also be prescribed.   Antibiotics eliminate the bacteria from the nose and throat of persons carrying it, which may help protect contacts from developing a meningococcal infection. 

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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