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Second case of meningitis reported

By Kathy Chaffin
kchaffin@salisburypost.com
A second case of bacterial meningitis has been reported in Rowan County.
Nora Cartner, public health nurse supervisor for the Rowan County Health Department, said the 50-year-old woman was diagnosed after being admitted to Rowan Regional Medical Center last Wednesday and undergoing testing for another problem. She was later transferred to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.
Cartner said health officials have not been able to determine any link between the woman and the Carson High School senior diagnosed on Friday. The female student was admitted to Rowan Regional and later airlifted to Baptist.
“As far as I know, the young girl is improving,” she said. “The other lady, I don’t think she was ever critical, but I’m not sure if her status has improved considerably since she was first admitted.”
Cartner said it’s not unusual to have two unrelated cases of bacterial meningitis in the winter. “People tend to congregate in areas where they’re closer in the cooler weather,” she said. “They’re not outside a lot like they are in warmer weather.”
Because bacterial meningitis is highly contagious and can be fatal, most of the people who had close contact with both patients have been notified. Cartner said there are still a few who had contact with the 50-year-old that health officials have not been able to reach.
Carson Assistant Principal Kelly Withers and Susan McClary, the school nurse, met personally with students who sat near the affected student or had close contact with her prior to her illness to let them know what was going on.
Principal Henry Kluttz sent out two Connect-Ed telephone messages to parents of all students advising them of the case and the symptoms of bacterial meningitis: high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting and discomfort looking at lights. Kluttz encouraged parents to contact the health department or their physicians if their children have of those symptoms.
“If you have any doubts, call your doctor, go to the emergency room,” Kluttz said.
Four students, including one who drank after the affected student, were put on a preventive antibiotic by their physicians to reduce the chance of them developing bacterial meningitis.
Rita Foil, public information officer for the school system, said the illness came on very quickly in the student. She signed out of school sick at about 1:20 p.m. last Thursday and went to her family physician that afternoon, who began treating her for a virus.
After the student’s condition worsened overnight, Foil said she returned to her physician, who had her admitted to Rowan Regional. She was later airlifted to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.

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