Sep 17, 2015 5:14 PM
BERWICK, MAINE - Two children in the NOBLE school district have been diagnosed with meningitis, a potentially life-threatening disease caused by the inflammation of protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
Although both children attend Berwick schools, Supt. Steve Connolly said health officials don't believe the cases are connected to each other or the schools.
“Seems to be unrelated," Connolly said on Thursday. "I don’t think there’s any reason for anybody to feel that the schools are some kind of breeding ground.”
On Wednesday, Connolly sent a letter to parents advising them that a student at the Vivian E. Hussey school had a confirmed, viral case of meningitis. The letter continues to state there is an unrelated case at the Noble Middle School.
Connolly has been in contact with the Maine Center for Disease Control, who believes there is "no need for major concern" for students and staff, he said.
As a precaution, however, the school district has doubled cleanings - particularly in bathrooms, classrooms and cafeterias.
According to Connolly, there are multiple symptoms parents should be on the lookout for:
Speaking in general terms, New Hampshire state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan, also an infectious disease physician, said meningitis comes in various forms - making it challenging to diagnose and treat.
However, Chan says there are steps people can take to prevent the spread.
“People need to take precautions and practice good hand hygiene, covering mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze," Chan said.
The Berwick schools saw a slight increase in absences on Thursday, Supt. Connolly said.
“I think in one school we had ten kids that didn’t come to school today, because parents wanted to take extra precaution," he explained.
Some other parents who chose to send their kids to school, however, had discussions about how to stay healthy.
“This morning I let them know to make sure they take precautions, like they said with the letter that was sent home," said Julie Marcotte. "Washing their hands, and not sharing their items. My daughter said she shared a water bottle with a friend, I’m like ‘don’t do that right now!’”
A condition and identity of both students was unavailable on Thursday evening. Connolly said they will likely remain absent for at least a week to recover.
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