New Case Of Meningitis Prompts Questions About Health Safety - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

1/28/04 - Lufkin

New Case Of Meningitis Prompts Questions About Health Safety

by Stuart Burson

Health officials have confirmed another case of meningitis in Angelina County. It's the fourth case of the disease reported in East Texas in the past two weeks. For privacy reasons, health officials are not releasing any information about the victim. But they say this case of meningitis is caused by the staphylococcus bacteria.

Doctors say it's different than the case of bacterial meningitis that killed a 6-year-old student from Central two weeks ago. But it is still raising questions about whether you need to be worried about health risks. Medical professionals say that it's not uncommon to see an increase in meningitis cases during certain times of the year.

"We don't see that many cases of meningitis on a regular basis. There are peak periods, generally during springtime and during the wintertime. So it's important just so you'll know that the community is having a problem with an infectious disease, so that you can be prepared or educated about that so you can protect yourself and your family." says Dr. Msonthi Levine

And that means knowing the symptoms of meningitis. They may include headache, a stiff neck, confusion, disorientation, and sleepiness. Dr. Levine also says there's no way to avoid the disease except common-sense practices like washing your hands, and using a tissue when blowing your nose.

"Because I can say there are peak periods... the bacteria is ubiquitous in the environment. So we can't just quarantine everyone or suggest that you wear gloves or masks, or take antibiotics... nothing of that sort so we routinely recommend."

In fact, he says that many of the bacteria that causes meningitis, like the staph bacteria, are closer to us than we might think, and there's no way to avoid contact.

"In general terms it's a bacteria that has been with us, will always be with us, it's on our skin all the time."

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