UPDATE: According to Superintendent Dr. Joyce Ryerson, the Morgan County Health Department reported the suspected case to them today and believe that it is likely a case of viral meningitis, the more common type. However, until test results are back, the school is operating under the assumption that it could be either type.
It can take up to 72 hours for these test results. In addition to cancelling middle school practices and events for the next couple of days until the results are back, school employees are busy with disinfection measures, using bleach water to clean everything from shoulder pads and door handles to lockers and walls.
With the length of the incubation period, the exposure area is fairly wide. Versailles Middle School enrollment is currently at 333 for September. Ryerson said there have been other middle school students, mainly centered on the VMS football team, to report symptoms of headache and fever, but with so many more common illnesses with similar symptoms, the reach of the case is uncertain.
INITIAL REPORT: Morgan County R-II warned parents Thursday of a suspected case of meningitis in the Versailles Middle School.
A letter from Superintendent Dr. Joyce Ryerson advised that the district is working with the Morgan County Health Department to take precautions as necessary in light of the development.
Among other possible steps, the district has cancelled all middle school practices and games today.
Children who may have a higher risk in this case are middle school football team members, those religiously exempt from inoculations. Children recently diagnosed with strep whose symptoms persist following treatment with antibiotics are also of concern.
The press release did not state what type of meningitis was confirmed, bacterial or viral, but it did state concern about strep cases and said the most common symptoms include fever and headache. The incubation period for the illness is one to 10 days before symptoms present.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading causes of bacterial meningitis in the U.S. include streptococcus pneumoniae, group B streptococcus, neisseria meningitidis, haemophilus influenzae and listeria monocytogenes. Bacterial meningitis is the more serious of the two types of meningitis, however viral meningitis can also be very serious. Viral is more common than bacterial.
Leading causes of viral meningitis are non-polio enteroviruses, mumps, measles, influenza, arboviruses such as West Nile and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus.
If you are concerned that your child has been exposed or if they are suffering from these symptoms, the district advised that you take the child to see a physician and let the doctor know the potential for exposure.
The district also asks that children who have been ill not return to school until they have been fever free for 24 hours, as is standard policy.
“We take the health and safety of our children very seriously and appreciate your cooperation as we take precautions to avoid exposure to this illness,” the letter concluded.