School officials take precautions following meningitis diagnosis

By Nicole Daughhetee

Courier Staff

LIBERTY — Last Friday, the School District of Pickens County was notified by the parent of a Liberty High School student that the student had been hospitalized with a diagnosis of meningitis.

Immediately, school district nursing coordinator Angela Watson and LHS Principal Lori Gwinn began to work with DHEC to make sure that the school district took necessary precautions to avoid the spread of the disease. Friday morning, the LHS custodial staff thoroughly cleaned surfaces and areas that the student may have come in contact with while at school.

SDPC spokesman John Eby said that all LHS parents were given a letter explaining what had happened, what precautions were being taken and information on meningitis from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

At this time, the case is suspected of being bacterial meningitis. However, Eby says that the school district has not received confirmation from DHEC.

In the SDPC’s letter to the parents of LHS students, there was no recommendation that any people who have been in contact with the student at school receive any treatment.

The germs that cause bacterial meningitis can be contagious and can be spread through respiratory and oral secretions. The disease is not airborne and is typically transmitted by close contact with an infected person.

According to the CDC, most of the bacteria that cause meningitis are not as contagious as diseases like the common cold or the flu. The bacteria are spread to other people through close or direct contact (such as kissing) with the infected person.

Symptoms of meningitis infection may present with the sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. Often this is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, or confusion.

The district urged parents that should they or anyone in their household exhibit these symptoms, they should seek immediate care from a doctor.

“We will continue to monitor all students at LHS, watch for any other patterns of symptoms or illness, and remain in contact with DHEC,” said Eby. “Should parents have questions or concerns regarding meningitis, they should contact their doctor.”

When asked about the current condition of the LHS student, Eby said the district could not comment, as it would be a violation of HIPAA.