Meningitis concern in north county
CCSD No. 2 closes north county schools Friday for student case. Schools disinfected and reopen
February 27, 2019
By Joshua Wood
A fourth grade student from Hanna Elementary School (HES) is in recovery following a diagnosis of bacterial meningitis that was reported by Carbon County School District No. 2 (CCSD2) Superintendent Jim Copeland near the end of the Feb. 20 CCSD2 Board of Trustees Meeting. As was reported on the Saratoga Sun website (“Bacterial meningitis reported in Hanna”) late Wednesday night, the student was life flighted from Laramie following the diagnosis.
The student, according to Copeland, is expected to return home at some point this week. At this time, however, it is still unclear when they will be able to return to school.
The decision to close HES for cleaning along with Medicine Bow Elementary School, Elk Mountain Elementary School and Hanna, Elk Mountain and Medicine Bow (HEM) High School was made the night of the meeting. In a letter to parents in the northern part of the district, Copeland wrote that the student was responding to medication.
“We also made the decision to close the Northern Campuses today as a precaution—and to allow for antibacterial disinfecting of the schools before resuming next Monday,” Copeland wrote.
In addition to Copeland’s letter, a letter from District Nurse Karen Patton was attached, and was also posted to the Sun website, detailing symptoms of bacterial meningitis along with advice on when to consult a doctor and how to prevent infection. In the letter from Patton, she wrote that the bacteria known to cause meningitis could not survive outside the human body and, therefore, could not be carried on clothes, bedding, toys or dishes.
On Feb. 22, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) released a statement regarding the “possible meningitis case in Carbon County.”
“There is no cause for widespread public health concern related to a possible meningitis case in Carbon County, according to the Wyoming Department of Health,” the release read. “Hospital laboratory work involving the Carbon County student described in communications shared earlier this week by local school representatives has not been completed.”
The Sun reached out to Kim Deti, Public Information Officer for WDH, on Monday morning. Deti was able to confirm that the WDH had been able to receive updated information that morning based on hospital laboratory testing and verified that Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, also known as pneumococcus, had been confirmed in the fourth grade HES student.
“Meningitis caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae is not considered contagious,” said Deti.
According to the Center for Disease Control website (CDC), pneumococcus is the most common cause of middle ear infections in young children as well as bloodstream infections, pneumonia and meningitis. The CDC website goes on to state that if a doctor suspects invasive pneumococcal, the terminology for the bacteria that infects the bloodstream and causes meningitis, testing will be done with samples of cerebrospinal fluid or blood.
While custodial staff at all the schools in CCSD2 already clean with antibacterial agents, Copeland informed the Sun on Monday that schools will undergo a “deep clean” in cases such as this.
When schools are deep cleaned by custodial staff, it often starts with the use of antibacterial bombs, an aerosol can that will spray a cleaning agent into the air. Following the use of the antibacterial bombs, in which the room is unable to be entered for several hours, custodial staff will further clean surfaces with antibacterial wipes and spray. This includes bathroom surfaces, lockers, student desks and anywhere else students may place their hands.
According to WDH State Health Officer and State Epidemiologist Dr. Alexia Harrist, in a press release issued by the WDH on Monday, the most effective way to help prevent most types of bacterial meningitis is vaccination.