The New York State Departments of Health and Education are Working Closely with Local Health Departments, School Districts and Communities to Increase Public Awareness of Meningitis Case, Stress Health Precautions

ALBANY, NY, May 2, 2006 - In light of the report of one Herkimer County resident reported with meningitis on May 1, 2006, the New York State Departments of Health (NYSDOH) and Education continue to work with Fulton, Herkimer and Montgomery County Health Departments, local school districts and communities to identify persons who may have been exposed to meningococcal disease.

The Herkimer County student from Dolgeville High School, who was diagnosed and hospitalized with meningococcal meningitis this past weekend, remains hospitalized but is improving.

People who attended the social gatherings at either of the locations below and who are feeling ill or shared items, such as beverages, eating utensils, or cigarettes, should contact their medical provider to obtain preventive antibiotics:

  • The Town of Salisbury Center (Herkimer County) - Irondale Road Sand Pit on the evening of Thursday, April 20, 2006; and
  • The Town of Salisbury Center (Herkimer County) - Fairview Road Sand Pit on the evening of Saturday, April 29, 2006.

The following actions have been taken by the State and local government representatives in response to this situation:

  • The New York State Department of Health, Herkimer County Health Department and the Dolgeville High School developed and distributed a letter yesterday, May 1, 2006, with recommendations to the parents of the students.
  • The New York State Department of Health distributed a health advisory to hospitals, healthcare providers, and local health departments with recommendations for identifying and managing persons exposed to meningococcal disease.
  • The New York State Department of Health and Herkimer County Health Department staff went onsite to Dolgeville High School this afternoon at 2:00 P.M. to provide an educational in-service for parents and staff and to answer questions.
  • Herkimer, Fulton, and Montgomery County Health Departments continue to reach out to persons who may have been exposed to meningococcal disease and also respond to inquires from parents, schools, and healthcare providers.

Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial infection of the meninges (a thin lining covering the brain and spinal cord). The symptoms of meningococcal disease may include high fever, headache, vomiting, stiff neck, and rash. Each year between 100 and 150 cases of meningococcal disease are reported in New York State. The disease generally occurs as an isolated, sporadic event.

The bacterium, Neisseria meningiditis, which causes the disease, is transmitted by direct contact with nasal and throat discharges from an infected person (e.g., household members, intimate contacts, daycare center playmates, healthcare personnel in direct contact with secretions and not wearing adequate personal protective equipment). Casual contact between people, as might occur in the classroom setting, are usually not significant enough to cause concern.

It is recommended that people who have had close contact with the ill student, such as family members and friends (e.g., kissing or sharing beverages and eating utensils) receive preventive antibiotics.

Persons who have symptoms or think they have been exposed to meningococcal disease should contact their healthcare provider. For additional information about the disease, please contact the local health department:

Herkimer County Public Health: 315-867-1430

Fulton County Public Health: 518-736-5720

Montgomery County: 518-853-3531