Susanville schools back open after meningitis diagnosis

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SUSANVILLE, Calif. (KOLO) - Lassen High School and Lassen Community College in Susanville are back open after being closed through September 29, 2017 after Lassen County’s Public Health Department confirmed viral meningitis in Lassen County.

14 cases have been clinically diagnosed, nine of them lab-confirmed, of 43 total possible cases in Lassen County.

According to a Public Health release, the department is working with medical providers to ensure prompt identification and reporting of patients with signs and symptoms of viral meningitis.

Lassen Health says the investigation began with the high school football team, but is not further identifying anyone whose symptoms are being tested.

Meningitis interview with Dr. Marjorie Bessel, MD, Banner Health

According to the release, viral meningitis is an inflammation of the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord that is caused by a virus. It is typically less severe than bacterial meningitis, and most people recover on their own within seven to ten days. Viral meningitis cannot be treated with antibiotics, and there is no need for contacts of cases to receive preventive antibiotics. Although clusters of cases of viral meningitis are not common, they do occur.

Viral Meningitis symptoms include:
• Fever
• Headache
• Sensitivity to light
• Stiff neck
• Fatigue
• Some people may have rash, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting.

There are no vaccines to protect against the most common causes of viral meningitis, but the following steps can help lower the infection risk or risk of spreading infection.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using the toilet, changing diapers, or coughing or blowing your nose.
• Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with tissue or your upper shirt sleeve, not your hands.
• Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
• Clean and disinfect potentially contaminated items and surfaces with diluted bleach (1/4 cup of bleach in one gallon water).
• Stay home when you are sick.

The California Department of Public Health has been notified about these cases, and available samples will be forwarded for testing for viral pathogens.

People feeling unwell with symptoms of meningitis are urged to seek medical attention to rule out bacterial meningitis.

For more information, click here.