Meningitis Cases On The Rise

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The number of viral meningitis cases is on the rise in Washoe County, with 10 cases awaiting final diagnosis the last two weeks, health officials said.

The total number of confirmed cases so far this year is 30, compared with 41 cases in 2002.

"The United States as a whole is seeing an increase in viral meningitis cases, which could mean anything from more complete reporting to an actual increase in the disease," said Barbara Lee Hunt, district health officer.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord. While not fatal, the disease must be monitored by a physician to rule out other potentially fatal forms of meningitis.

In addition to improper hand-washing, the disease can also be spread by sharing eating utensils, water bottles and sodas, health officials said.