Girl treated for possible meningitis

Six-year-old attends Deep Run Elementary

December 05, 2003|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A first-grader at Deep Run Elementary School in Elkridge was admitted this week to Johns Hopkins Hospital after becoming ill Monday with a suspected case of bacterial meningitis, the Howard County Health Department announced yesterday.

The girl was taken to Howard County General Hospital's emergency room Tuesday and then transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where her condition was improving, authorities said. No other children or staff members were reported to have symptoms of meningitis.

"The good thing is that when we found out about this, we were able to respond immediately," said Patti Caplan, spokeswoman for the Howard County public school system, which is working with the Health Department to contain the illness.

"Hopefully, we can catch this before anybody else contracts it," Caplan said.

Staff members and children who may have come in close contact with the infected 6-year-old girl have been notified, Health Department officials said, and vaccinations were offered last night at the school. Bacterial meningitis is a contagious infection that can cause brain damage and hearing loss.

Lisa Heyward, spokeswoman for the Health Department, said doctors are waiting for lab results to determine whether the illness is meningitis, which is typically caused by a viral or bacterial infection. But, she added, "we are taking precautions just in case it is."

The disease - which begins with the flulike symptoms of fever, stiff neck and headache - is spread through saliva, mucous, or droplets from the nose or throat, such as those that occur when coughing or sneezing.

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