Message on Meningitis at Hedrick and Hoover
December 7, 2016
The Jackson County Public Health Department is following up on a confirmed case of meningitis at Hedrick Middle School and a presumptive case at Hoover Elementary School involving siblings.
The following letter has been sent to all staff and families at Hedrick and Hoover. The health and safety of our staff and students is our top priority. In their press conference on 7/7, Public Health reiterated that this is not an outbreak and that meningitis is significantly less contagious than the flu, but more serious if contracted. Public Health has confirmed that they called approximately 75 people who had close contact with the affected students in their schools and families and issued an antibiotic as a precautionary measure. Public Health issued a flash alert to all medical providers in the area to raise awareness in the medical community. Finally, Dr. Jim Shames also assured the media today that the tragic loss of a student at Hedrick last week was not connected to this incident of meningitis.
We appreciate the efforts of the staff at Hedrick and Hoover to support their communities through this process.
December 6, 2016
This is a joint message from Jackson County Health and Human Services (Public Health) and the Medford School District (MSD).
Public Health is following up on a possible case of bacterial meningitis at Hedrick Middle School and a possible case at Hoover Elementary School. Meningococcal disease is not highly contagious, but those in close contact with someone infected are at higher risk and should get antibiotics to prevent disease. Local health departments are required to investigate each case and recommend antibiotics as needed. Public Health is working with the school to identify those students and staff with close, face-to-face contact. This means people who were in the same room or enclosed space with direct, close contact to the ill child for at least four hours between November 28 and December 2.
Public Health will telephone the families of students who have been identified as having close contact with the infected student and recommend that they take preventative antibiotics. People who have not had close contact usually don't require medication because they are not considered close contacts.
Please note, there is no increased risk to students and staff not identified as close contacts – their risk remains the same as the general population.
Meningococcal disease is caused by Neisseria meningitidis, a bacterium that lives in the noses and throats of 5% to 10% of the population. It causes serious disease only if it enters the blood stream and spreads through the body. Meningococcal meningitis occurs when the bacteria causes inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
Although the risk to other students is quite low, parents are advised to be alert for signs of meningococcal disease. These include, but are not limited to high fever, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, and/or a rash. If parents see these symptoms in their child, they should contact their health care provider immediately. Those who are treated promptly with antibiotics usually do well.
As an extra precaution, Medford School District staff are thoroughly cleaning the affected schools. The health and safety of students and staff is an on-going, top priority for the district.
Please call Public Health at (541) 774-8045 if you have questions.
M.D. For Health and Human Services
Superintendent of Schools