State officials say a case of bacterial meningitis has been confirmed in a student at Linn-Mar High School in Marion. State epidemiologist, Patricia Quinlisk, says the disease is spread by direct contact with saliva.
Quinlisk says only about one or two percent of the people who have that contact with a person through kissing or sharing a drink or something like that will get bacterial meningitis. But she says it’s a "very devastating" disease as around 15% of the people who contract it will die, even with good medical care.
And she says the disease can also have some very bad side effects such as deafness of the loss of a limb. Quinlisk says the health department just wants to be sure the disease wasn’t spread in some mass fashion. She says most of the people who are exposed are usually family members, and doctors who treat the person usually give antibiotics to the family.
Quinlisk says many people carry the bacteria around without every knowing it, and they aren’t sure why it then causes some to become sick. Dr. Quinlisk says the impact of the disease is something that shouldn’t be overlooked, and prevention is important for some groups.
Quinlisk says there is a vaccine that the health department recommends for young adults and some colleges require the vaccine to protect students from the disease. Sings of bacterial meningitis include: high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, and or a rash. A Sioux City high school student died in January from bacterial meningitis. Fifteen-year old Ashley Andreasen died at the hospital one-day after being diagnosed.