Local News

Cumberland Health Officials Concerned About Possible Meningitis Cases

Posted January 4, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST

— The Cumberland County Health Department is sounding the alert following two reported cases of meningitis.

Health officials say the two cases ofbacterial meningitisare unconfirmed and appear to be unrelated.

The first possible case of bacterial meningitis involves a 19-year-old man who showed up at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center Wednesday. The second, a 13-year-old boy admitted to Womack Army Hospital New Year's Day.

Cultures taken from both people have yet to produce the meningococcus bacteria.

"It is the more severe one. It is treatable by antibiotics, but if left untreated, it can lead to fatalities," says pediatrician Dr. Rita Gunter.

The 13-year-old comes from a family stationed at Fort Bragg.

The 19-year-old works as a cook at a Waffle House in Spring Hope, near Fayetteville. The health department says he was unresponsive before being transferred to Duke Medical Center.

Health officials say there is little chance of someone getting meningitis from food prepared by the man. The only way to get this is from close contact.

Close contact includes direct exposure to secretions through kissing, sharing toothbrushes or shared utensils that go directly from one mouth to another. Symptoms:Meningitis is an infection of the spinal cord fluid that surrounds the brain. High fever, headache, and stiff neck are common symptoms that can develop over several hours, or they may take one to two days to materialize.

Early meningitis symptoms can be confused with those of the flu.

Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, discomfort looking into bright lights, confusion, and sleepiness.

Bacterial meningitis is the more severe form of the illness, which can cause death if untreated.

Health officials say they are trying to track down anyone who attended a New Year's Eve party with the 19-year-old and those who were at a soccer game the 13-year-old participated in during the holidays.

Anyone with questions or concerns should contact theCumberland County Health Departmentat910-433-3600.