State Health Department Urges Individuals Who Attended Social Gathering and May Have Been Exposed to Meningococcal Meningitis to Contact a Health Care Provider for Medical Treatment

ALBANY, NY, May 1, 2006 - The New York State Department of Health is working with Fulton, Herkimer and Montgomery County Health Departments to identify persons who may have been exposed to meningococcal disease during social gatherings at sand pits on Irondale Road or Fairview Road in the Town of Salisbury Center (Herkimer County) on the evenings of April 20 and April 29, 2006, respectively.

It was reported today that a student from Dolgeville High School (Fulton County) who attended the social gatherings was diagnosed and hospitalized with meningococcal meningitis this past weekend. The student remains hospitalized.

The Fulton, Herkimer and Montgomery County Health Departments are currently working with the school and family to identify close contacts of the ill student who will now require preventive antibiotics to guard against meningococcal meningitis. In addition, those individuals who attended the social gatherings at either of the locations below and 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
  • The Town of Salisbury Center (Herkimer County) - Fairview Road on the evening of Saturday, April 29, 2006

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. Only people who have been in close contact (e.g., household members, intimate contacts, daycare center playmates, healthcare personnel in direct contact with secretions and not wearing adequate personal protective equipment). Casual contacts, as might occur in the classroom setting, is 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