EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 4, 2012

Superintendent: Meningitis case does not pose threat

By James Niedzinski jniedzinski@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — LONDONDERRY — A Londonderry High School faculty member has been diagnosed with viral meningitis, but the district’s superintendent said it does not pose a threat to students or staff.

Superintendent Nathan Greenberg sent a letter to parents yesterday, informing them of the illness. The letter also said the state Department of Health has not declared it a public health issue.

The case is not as serious as that of 16-year-old Rebecca Tenney, a student at the school who died of complications from viral meningitis in September 2010. She died only a week and a half after experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Viral meningitis is not highly contagious and rarely fatal, according to Chris Adamski, chief of the state’s Bureau of Infectious Disease Control.

“The disease can be spread through respiratory secretions such as saliva, but it is rarely contagious,” she said.

Adamski said she is not sure why, but viral meningitis cases increase in the fall and summer. They can be caused by any number of viruses, she said. Greenberg said district schools are cleaned every night with anti-bacterial cleaners.

“Other than that, there is nothing else we can really do,” he said. “But we always promote proper hygiene to combat diseases.”

Adamski agreed, recommending rest and headache medicine when needed.

In addition, a healthy immune system as well as basic hygiene can help prevent the virus from spreading.

Adamski said schools do a great job of notifying the proper officials when somebody is diagnosed with viral meningitis. The state received a call about the case from a Londonderry school official earlier this week, she said. Symptoms can include vomiting, nausea, headaches and fatigue. Symptoms of bacterial meningitis are more sudden than viral meningitis.

The symptoms can last from a week to two weeks.

Last year, a Londonderry High teacher was diagnosed with viral meningitis, but recovered.