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Halifax County Middle School student treated for meningitis

A Halifax County Middle School student is being treated for non-bacterial, viral meningitis, school officials said this week.

According to Valdivia Marshall, Halifax County Public Schools executive director for administration, a letter from the health department was sent home Monday to parents and guardians of middle school students making them aware of the situation.

Marshall said the health department is working closely with the school, hospital and with the physicians who are treating the child.

Family members said earlier this week, the student had been discharged from MCV Hospital in Richmond and is expected to return to school soon.

There are many different causes of meningitis including viral, bacterial and fungal, according to the letter sent home to parents.

“The information we have received indicates that this type of infection is not the type of meningitis that is readily spread from one individual to another. Therefore the Southside Health District is not recommending prophylactic antibiotics for other children or staff at the school,” according to the letter from the health department.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

According to Dr. Laura Gateley, acting health director for the Southside Health District, common symptoms of meningitis include a sudden onset of fever, severe headache, stiff neck, vomiting and a general feeling of not being well.

Most viruses and bacteria that cause meningitis are spread by droplets such as secretions from the nose or mouth.

Health officials suggest preventing the spread of droplets by washing hands thoroughly, covering a cough or sneeze with a tissue and disposing of the tissue promptly after wiping the nose, not sharing food or drink items and frequently cleaning toys and play surfaces.

Also parents are urged to ensure children’s immunizations are up to date, especially the Hib and PCV vaccines, Gateley said.

Anyone with questions about a child’s risk of exposure to meningitis or the status of their child’s immunizations are asked to contact the child’s pediatrician.

For additional information, contact Rhonda Pruitt, Southside District epidemiologist, at 476-4863, ext. 127.