It is a potentially deadly disease: meningococcal meningitis. The Interior Health Authority has confirmed that a high school student in Kelowna has come down with it.
IHA and Central Okanagan Public Schools have sent out a letter to parents confirming the case. While no details are being released about the student or the school they attend, the letter does provide information about meningitis.
“We don’t want to inflame or cause anyone to be concerned,” Central Okanagan Assistant Superintendent Vianne Kintzinger said. “Interior Health is telling us it is a very, very low-risk situation but we want to ensure parents are in the loop, can look out for things should children become sick.”
IHA did confirm the odds of transmission to the rest of the student body as a result of this case is extremely low. Close contacts of the affected student have been notified and treated with antibiotics as a precaution.
While rare, meningitis can result in serious complications or even death.
“Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord.” IHA’s Medical Health Officer Dr. Silvina Mema said.
Anyone is susceptible but young people are especially prone because of the way that meningitis is spread, through saliva.
“Teenagers are more at risk because they may share water bottles and kiss and have those kinds of exposures.” Mema said.
Mema said risks can be reduced through vaccinations and she urged parents to make sure their children are immunized.
“This year, we are offering in grade nine a vaccine that will protect students against four different strains against meningococcal meningitis when before we were only covering one strain,” Mema said.
While not much is known about the student who fell ill, IHA confirms the student is recovering.
People who are sick with the disease may have some of the following symptoms:
• Sudden onset of high fever
• Severe headache
• Nausea and vomiting
• Stiff neck
• Rash (purplish bruised look)
• Drowsiness or confusion
While the risk of getting the disease is very low, anyone with the above symptoms should see a doctor immediately.
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