Local News

Duplin Health Officials Discuss Blastomycosis Concerns, Findings

Posted April 4, 2002

— How did seven people in one community come down with

blastomycosis

and what is being done to prevent it from spreading? Growing concerns about an infectious outbreak prompted Duplin County residents to attend a community forum Tuesday evening.

Four students at James Kenan High School are among the seven people in the Warsaw area who have been diagnosed with blastomycosis, a fungal infection.

Exposure to blastomycosis comes from inhaling spores of a fungus known as blastomyces dermatitidis that is commonly found in moist soil throughout the Southeast.

The illness affects the lungs and the skin. It cannot be passed from person to person. The symptoms are similar to the flu, including chest pain and a cough. Once diagnosed, it can be treated with medication.

The health department said one student was critically ill and an 82-year-old man who had the illness died last month from respiratory failure.

"A segment of the population is still fearful, and that's the population we really want to meet with good facts and good hard data" said Scott Harrelson, Duplin County's health director.

In an effort to calm some of those fears, the health department held its second community forum and released some of its recent findings.

Health officials said all seven people who are infected lived in Warsaw and the time of their exposure was in November. They said all seven people were involved in outdoor activities at James Kenan High School.

Some high school baseball teams have refused to come to the school fearing that they will be exposed to the infection. The principal stresses that the school is safe.

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