Four cases of bacterial meningitis have been confirmed in Missouri — two of which have been fatal. Health officials say the public should not be alarmed.
Autum Grim, an epidimiologist with the Department of Health, says it’s important to remember that meningitis is a symptom that can result from a plethora of health complications, where the brain and spinal cord become inflamed.
It’s the Neisseria meningitidis that’s the most concerning to health officials, and that’s the kind contracted by one confirmed patient in Southeast Missouri.
Grim says the infection can only be passed on through saliva or mucous membranes, so the average citizen is not at risk of getting sick just from being around an infected person.
Still, Grim says common-sense habits can keep a host of infectious diseases at bay: Don’t share drinks, utensils or toothbrushes, wash hands frequently and those with small children, make sure their immunizations are up to date.
Two soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood have died recently from bacterial meningitis and another National Guardsman who attended training at Fort Wood has been hosptalized in Florida. Officials are saying the cases are coincidental, and unrelated.
The Mansfield school district and the Camdenton school district have confirmed an infected student at each of those locations.
The three main types of infections that lead to bacterial meningitis are: Haemophilus influenzae type B, Neisseria meningitidis, and Streptococcus.
Missouri health officials as well as the Centers for Disease Control are closely monitoring the situation.