CORVALLIS, Ore. - A student at Linus Pauling Middle School in Corvallis was hospitalized Sunday, Jan. 14, with a confirmed case of meningococcal disease. Health officials are waiting for lab test results to determine the strain.
"At this time there is no epidemiological link to the meningococcal disease outbreak at OSU in Corvallis, but the investigation is still ongoing," said Charlie Fautin, deputy director of Benton County Health Department. "We are investigating this case thoroughly with the support of the school district and state health officials. Strain results for this case are forthcoming, and will provide more information."
Symptoms specific to this disease are sudden onset of a high fever, headache, exhaustion, nausea, rash, stiff neck, vomiting, and diarrhea. If your child is experiencing these symptoms, it is important to seek urgent, same day evaluation at your child's health care provider's office, urgent care medical clinic or emergency room.
"Meningococcal disease is rare to occur among middle-school aged kids," Fautin said. "We understand this occurrence is likely to be especially worrisome to our community right now. This case highlights that parents need to remain aware of symptoms and watch for these in their children."
People who have spent at least four hours cumulatively in close, face-to-face association with a person suffering from meningococcal disease within seven days before the illness started are considered at highest risk of catching the disease. It is transmitted through direct contact with droplets from coughing or sneezing; kissing or contact with mucus or saliva from an ill person's nose or throat, or by sharing of eating and drinking utensils, or vaping and smoking devices.
"As part of the public health investigative process in these situations, we find everyone who was in close contact with an infected person. If warranted, we give them preventive antibiotic treatment to ensure their safety. And, we will give close contacts antibiotics to prevent illness even if they have been vaccinated before," said Dr. Bruce Thomson, Benton County health officer. "It's important for parents to ensure their kids are up-to-date on recommended vaccinations, including the recommended age-appropriate meningococcal vaccine, especially during flu season and with the upcoming school exclusion deadline in February."
There have been six cases of meningococcal disease in undergraduate students at Oregon State University in Corvallis in the past 15 months. The most recent case was reported in December 2017. The university implemented a new meningococcal disease vaccine requirement for students 25-years-old and younger.