Center ISD campuses closed through Monday; what you need to know about viral meningitis

The Center Independent School District has announced that it will close its campuses from Wednesday, Feb. 14 through Monday, Feb. 19 due to a confrimed case of viral meningitis at the FL Moffett Campus, as well as a large number of flu-like cases at all of its campuses. The campuses will undergo disinfectant cleaning duirng the closure. While students will not return to classes until Feb. 20, all campus offices – with the exception of Moffett – will be open. 

According to the Center for Health and Helath Care in Schools, viral or aseptic meningitis is the most common form of meningitis in the U.S. It is rarely fatal in individuals with a healthy immune system. It is frequently not diagnosed because it is thought to be the flu. It is usually caused by enteroviruses — viruses that enter the body through the mouth and travel to the brain and surrounding tissues. Enteroviruses are present in mucus, saliva, and feces and can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person or infected object or surface. Individuals infected with viral meningitis usually recover without specific treatment within 7 to 10 days.

Information on meningitis from the Center for Health and Health Care in School

Signs and symptoms:

  • Hallmark signs of meningitis are sudden fever, severe headache, and a stiff neck. In more severe cases, neurological symptoms may include nausea and vomiting, confusion and disorientation, drowsiness, sensitivity to bright light, and poor appetite.
  • Meningitis often appears with flu-like symptoms that develop over 1-2 days.
  • In newborns and infants, typical symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be hard to detect. Other signs in babies might be inactivity, irritability, vomiting, and poor feeding.
  • Since the symptoms of viral and bacterial meningitis are often similar, persons who believe they have been exposed should seek medical help as soon as possible.

Diagnosis

  • Early diagnosis and treatment are important. If symptoms occur, the patient should see a doctor immediately. Bacterial meningitis can be treated with a number of effective antibiotics but treatment must start early.
  • The diagnosis of bacterial meningitis is usually made by growing bacteria from a sample of spinal fluid. The spinal fluid is obtained by a spinal tap. A doctor inserts a needle into the lower back and removes some fluid from the spinal canal. Identification of the type of bacteria responsible for the meningitis is important for the selection of correct antibiotic treatment.

Treatment

  • Viral meningitis has no specific treatment at this time. Most patients recover on their own. Physicians may recommend bed rest, plenty of fluids, and medicine to relieve fever and headache. Persons with severe viral meningitis may be hospitalized for supportive care. The physician may prescribe anticonvulsants such as dilantin or phenytoin to prevent seizures and corticosteroids to reduce brain inflammation. If inflammation is severe, pain medicine and sedatives may be prescribed to make the patient more comfortable.
  • Bacterial meningitis: strong doses of general antibiotics may be prescribed first, followed by intravenous antibiotics in more severe cases.

Prevention

  • Good personal hygiene reduces the risk of getting the disease from an infected person. Avoid sharing food, utensils, glasses and other objects with a person who may have or been exposed to the infection.
  • Wash hands often with soap and rinse under running water.
  • People who live, work, or go to school with someone who has been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis may be asked to take antibiotics for a few days as a preventive measure.
  • Several vaccines protect against bacterial meningitis but their effectiveness varies depending on the type of bacteria.

Here is the full text of the letter from Center ISD Superintendent James Hockenberry:

CENTER ISD WILL CLOSE ALL CAMPUSES Due to a confirmed case of viral meningitis at FL Moffett

Tuesday, Feb. 13 2018

Dear Parents and Guardians,

We have been notified of a confirmed case of viral meningitis at the FL Moffett Campus. As a result, we are taking immediate and swift action to disinfect the entire FL Moffett campus.

Furthermore, we are seeking and experiencing a large number of flu or flu-like illnesses across the district. The presence of the illnesses are lingering, persistent, and growing both in our student body and faculty. As such, Center ISD will take proactive measures to disinfect and deep clean all district buildings and buses thoroughly.

Therefore, Center ISD will close all campuses Wednesday, Feb. 14 and Thursday, Feb. 15. Both Friday and Monday are student holidays. As such, students will return to school on Tuesday, Feb. 20. In this case, makeup days will not be necessary.

Other than FL Moffett, the campus offices will be open until noon tomorrow. We sincerely apologize for the short notice.

Respectfully, James Hokkenberry, Superintendent, Center ISD