The phones were ringing all day Monday at the Warren County HealthDepartment. Concerned people were calling, asking if they were at risk ofcontracting meningococcal meningitis. According to nurse Lou Ann Elam,only 5% to 15% of these cases become fatal. She says that the deaths areno cause for panic -- they're just a reminder to be careful.
Last week, 17-year-old Aretha Fedee died from the rare affliction.Saturday, 21-year-old Tamara Suswell died of the same condition.However, county health officials believe that the deaths areunrelated.
Sadly, Suswell was seven months pregnant when she died. Her unborn babyalso died. Fedee had just given birth when she died last week. However,health officials have established no link between pregnancy andmeningitis.
Meningococcal meningitis is spread only through direct contact with salivaor nasal secretions. Kissing, sharing eating utensils, and sharing foodare common ways of transmitting the disease.
Once infected, symptomsincludea sudden fever, vomiting, intense headaches, and a stiff or achingneck. If you experience these symptoms, or ifyou had contact with either victim recently, the Warren CountyHealthDepartment wants to speak with you. Their telephone number is (919)257-1185.
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