Anne Arundel County Health Department officials confirmed yesterday 14 more pneumonia cases at two elementary schools, just days after finding an initial batch of six cases at a third elementary school.
Health officials said they have X-ray confirmations of 11 pneumonia cases at Arnold Elementary and three at Cape St. Claire Elementary, in addition to the previous six at Oak Hill Elementary in Severna Park.
"The health officer was just telling us it's the season for these kinds of infections to start happening, and it spreads quickly when you have 200 students in close quarters with each other," said schools spokesman Bob Mosier.
All three schools have begun thoroughly cleaning classroom desktops and lunchroom tables and giving lessons on the importance of hand washing and covering the mouth and nose when coughing, Mosier said.
Cape St. Claire Elementary sent letters home to parents yesterday about the infection and how to guard against it. At Arnold Elementary, letters were sent home Oct. 15. Oak Hill began sending letters home in late September and sent two more in October.
The bacterial infection is characterized by coughing, fever, sore throat and headaches. Symptoms can take as long as 30 days to appear, but it is easily treated with antibiotics, said Dr. Katherine Farrell, deputy health officer with the county Department of Health.
Last month, Anne Arundel school and health officials had another scare after reports of 28 staphylococcus infections in four high schools: Severna Park, Glen Burnie, Old Mill and Chesapeake. Many of the cases were reported after an initial batch at Severna Park, which fanned concern among parents who complained about what they called dingy athletic facilities at high schools.