Health & Medicine

Elk Grove school staffer diagnosed with infection that can cause meningitis, officials say

Signs and symptoms of bacterial meningitis

Meningitis is an inflammation or swelling of the membranes protecting the brain and spinal cord. Most people recover from meningitis, but the disease it can be deadly if not treated.
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Meningitis is an inflammation or swelling of the membranes protecting the brain and spinal cord. Most people recover from meningitis, but the disease it can be deadly if not treated.

Parents in Elk Grove Unified School District have been alerted that a staff member has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease, bacterial infection that can cause bacterial meningitis, and may have interacted with students and faculty, the Sacramento County Department of Health Services said Monday.

The staff member works at James McKee Elementary School and is not a teacher, according to the district.

While the disease is not highly contagious, the district notified the parents of children in two half-day classes and faculty who may have come in close contact with the staff member before symptoms became apparent. The employee’s last day at work was April 30, and they will not return until recovered.

The Public Health department recommends that all individuals who may been exposed contact their doctor and obtain preventive medication.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends routine vaccinations for all preteens and teens, and anyone else with an increased risk of the disease.

“Keeping up to date with the CDC recommended meningococcal vaccines are the best defense against getting this disease,” said Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye.

Meningococcal disease can lead to bacterial meningitis, a serious and possibly deadly inflammation of the spinal cord and the brain, according to the CDC. It is unclear if the employee’s illness caused meningitis.

The bacteria can spread through direct contact with saliva, such as kissing, coughing or sharing a drink. The early symptoms of meningitis include fever, headache and a stiff neck. The illness requires immediate medical attention, as the illness could worsen or become deadly. The Public Health department added in its statement that meningococcal infection is not highly contagious.

There are currently no other related cases of meningococcal disease reported in Sacramento County.

The early symptoms of bacterial meningitis are similar to those of viral meningitis, according to the CDC. Viral meningitis, the most common form of the disease, is less serious than bacterial meningitis, and most people recover without treatment.

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Sawsan Morrar covers school accountability and culture for The Sacramento Bee. She grew up in Sacramento and is an alumna of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She previously freelanced for various publications including The Washington Post, Vice, KQED and Capital Public Radio.


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