Select parents notified after case of bacterial meningitis at DC elementary school

Some parents of students at a D.C. elementary school are being urged to take their children to the doctor after a case of bacterial meningitis was reported at the school.

D.C. Public Schools confirmed to WTOP it learned on Oct. 4 that a student at Burrville Elementary in Northeast D.C. had meningococcal meningitis. On the same day, a letter recommending the doctor visits went home to parents of children in that student’s class, according to D.C. Health.

The letters were not sent to the entire school, D.C. Health said.

Working with the school nurse, the agency identified children who could be at risk of exposure and alerted their families, a D.C. Health spokeswoman said in a statement to WTOP.

Only students who may have been in close contact with the ill child were deemed at-risk, the health department said, noting that the disease cannot be spread by casual contact like a cold or the flu.

“If a family didn’t receive a letter, their child was determined not to be at risk,” the statement said in part.

Bacterial meningitis is an inflammation of membranes around the spinal cord and brain and can be spread through the exchange of spit from coughing kissing or sharing utensils, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The infection, which can cause serious illness, can be treated with antibiotics.

The risk of getting the infection from another person can also be lowered by taking preventive antibiotics, the health department. The letter from D.C. Health recommended parents take their children to the doctor to be evaluated for the preventive medicine.

The letter also presented parents of potentially affected kids with cleaning instructions and information about meningitis, including symptoms to look out for which can develop three to seven days after exposure.

The most common symptoms of meningococcal meningitis are high fever, headache and a stiff neck.

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