Student's bacterial meningitis thought to be isolated case No others believed ill at Owings Mills High

September 11, 1997|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

An Owings Mills High School student has been hospitalized for treatment of what appears to be an isolated case of bacterial meningitis, health and school officials said yesterday.

The female student was hospitalized Saturday, but appears to be recovering from the life-threatening illness, said William L. Follett, director of health education and training for the Baltimore County Health Department.

Follett said the girl's family members and a few close friends were placed on antibiotics to ward off infection.

He said the girl was last in school Sept. 3, and the incubation period is normally two to four days. "At this point we have seen no other cases, so we can assume there are no other cases," he said.

Officials did not name the girl.

School officials sent a letter home with students Monday, alerting parents about the girl's illness. Abby Beytin, immediate past president of the school's PTSA, said the school's quick action helped to allay parents' fears.

"There was no waiting," said Beytin, whose 17-year-old son is in a class with the ill girl.

Follett said the bacteria that caused the girl's infection is carried in the nasal passages by about a quarter of the population, but is not spread through coughing or sneezing. He said the bacteria is spread only through close contact, such as kissing or sharing eating utensils or cigarette.

Meningitis, a progressive inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain, causes flu-like symptoms, and has a mortality rate of more than 5 percent. Follett said about 40 cases are reported annually in Baltimore County.

This year, three college students in Maryland died of meningitis or meningitis-related illnesses.

Pub Date: 9/11/97

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