2021-2022 Bacterial Meningitis Information

This information is taken directly from the 2021-2022 Compass Rose Public Schools Parent/Student Handbook

Bacterial Meningitis Information

State law requires Compass Rose to provide the following information:

What is bacterial meningitis?

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can be caused by viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria. Viral meningitis is common and most people recover fully. Parasitic and fungal meningitis are very rare. However, bacterial meningitis is very serious and may involve complicated medical, surgical, pharmaceutical and life support management.

What are the symptoms of bacterial meningitis?

Someone with meningitis will become very ill. The illness may develop over one or two days, but it can also rapidly progress in a matter of hours. Not everyone with meningitis will have the same symptoms.

Children (over 2 years old) and adults with bacterial meningitis commonly have a severe headache, high fever, and neck stiffness. Other symptoms might include nausea, vomiting, seizures, discomfort looking into bright lights, confusion and sleepiness and lethargy. In both children and adults, there may be a rash of tiny, red-purple spots or purple patches on the skin. These can occur anywhere on the body. The more symptoms, the higher the risk, so when these symptoms appear seek immediate medical attention.

The diagnosis of bacterial meningitis is based on a combination of symptoms and laboratory results.

How serious is bacterial meningitis?

Bacterial meningitis is a serious, potentially deadly disease that can progress extremely fast. If it is diagnosed early and treated promptly, the majority of people make a complete recovery. However, in some cases it can be fatal or a person may be left with permanent severe health problems or disability.

How is bacterial meningitis spread?

Fortunately, none of the bacteria that cause meningitis are as contagious as diseases like the common cold or the flu, and they are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been. They are spread when people

exchange saliva (such as by kissing, or by sharing drinking containers, food, utensils, cigarettes, toothbrushes, etc.) or come in contact with respiratory or throat secretions (such as by coughing or sneezing).

The germ does not cause meningitis in most people. Instead, most people become carriers of the germ for days, weeks, or even months. The bacteria rarely overcome the body’s immune system and cause meningitis or another serious illness.

How can bacterial meningitis be prevented?

Maintaining healthy habits, like getting plenty of rest, can help prevent infection. Using good health practices such as covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing and washing your hands frequently with soap and water can also help stop the spread of the bacteria. It’s a good idea not to share food, drinks, utensils, toothbrushes, or cigarettes. Limit the number of persons you kiss.

There are vaccines available to offer protection from some of the bacteria that can cause bacterial meningitis.* The vaccines are safe and effective (85–90 percent). They can cause mild side effects, such as redness and pain at the injection site lasting up to two days. Immunity develops within seven to ten days after the vaccine is given and lasts for from three to five years.

* Please note that the Texas Department of State Health Services (“TDSHS”) requires at least one meningococcal vaccination for grades 7 through 12, and state guidelines recommend this vaccination be administered between age 11 and 12, with a booster dose at 16 years of age. Also note that entering college students must show, with limited exception, evidence of receiving a bacterial meningitis vaccination within the five-year period prior to enrolling in and taking courses at an institution of higher education. Please see the school nurse for more information, as this may affect a student who wishes to enroll in a dual credit course taken off campus.

What should you do if you think you or a friend might have bacterial meningitis?

You should seek prompt medical attention.

Where can you get more information?

Your family doctor and the staff at your local or regional health department office are excellent sources for information on all communicable diseases. You may also call your local health department or Regional Texas Department of Health office to ask about the meningococcal vaccine. Additional information may also be found at the web sites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov and the Texas Department of State Health Services: https://www.dshs.tx.us/idcu/disease/meningitis/.