Student being tested for meningitis

PICKENS — Pickens County officials confirmed on Tuesday that a student at Pickens Elementary School has been tested and is being treated for a form of meningitis.

School District of Pickens County spokesman John Eby confirmed that an email and recorded phone message were sent out on Monday notifying parents that a possible case was discovered at the school.

“We have been contacted that a Pickens Elementary student was hospitalized and is being tested for meningitis. At this time, the student does not have a positive test for meningitis, but has been tested and being treated,” Eby said.

“Custodial staff has also wiped down all hard surfaces at the school,” he said. “To this point, every step the school has taken has been a voluntary precaution. We have not been notified of a positive test.”

Eby said Angela Watson, the school district’s coordinator of nursing, has been in contact with DHEC and will remain in contact with DHEC for any follow-up that may be necessary for the school.

The symptoms of meningitis infection may be sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck.

“If you or anyone in your household exhibits these symptoms, seek care from a doctor,” Eby said. “We will continue to monitor all illness at Pickens Elementary School, watch for any other patterns of symptoms or illness, and remain in contact with DHEC. Should parents have questions or concerns regarding illness, they should contact their doctor.”

Eby said he encouraged all parents of students at the school to take every precaustion.

Eby said a letter from DHEC was sent to parents on Tuesday.

“Meningitis has been diagnosed at Pickens Elementary School,” the letter stated.

The letter told parents that exposure may have occurred from Sept. 9 to Sept. 18.

Meningitis is the swelling or inflammation of the tissue covering the spinal cord and brain. Both viruses and bacteria can infect this tissue, but viruses are most often the cause. The symptoms are very similar. Although cases of meningitis are more frequent in the summer, but can occur at any time.

Symptoms of meningitis include fever, headache, stiff neck (your child will not want to bend his/her neck to touch the chin to the chest), discomfort when looking at lights, confusion, drowsiness, nausea, and decrease oral intake (drinking and eating).

Meningitis is spread by direct contact with respiratory secretions or by fecal-oral route. Good hand washing always helps stop the potential spread of meningitis and should always be practiced.

If your child has any (or any combination) of the symptoms listed above in the next 10 days, please take him/her to your primary care physician immediately for evaluation.

If you have any questions, please contact Upstate Region Public Health Epidemiology Office at 372-3133 (Greenville) or (864) 260-5801 (Anderson).