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Meningitis case confirmed in Loudoun County

It was announced this morning that Loudoun County has its first confirmed death caused by meningococcal meningitis since 2013.
The Loudoun County Health Department this morning confirmed a death from meningococcal meningitis in the county.

According to a report on the county’s website, “Meningitis, an infection of the tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord, can be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi.”

Dr. David Goodfriend, the director of the Loudoun County Health Department confirmed that the case was indeed a bacterial infection, a more serious version of the disease.

“Viral meningitis is pretty common and people typically get over that on their own,” said Goodfriend.

Of the bacterial infection Goodfriend said:

“[This type of infection] doesn’t happen often and we take it very seriously when we have a case of bacterial meningitis. We’ve been working very hard to identify any close contacts...[People who have] very close contact, household members, people who share a room in college settings in a dorm, if they share a drink where [they come in contact with the saliva], those are really the type of risk you look at. It’s not like the cold or the flu where you’re five feet from somebody.”

There is no evidence of a meningitis outbreak in the county, however, said Goodfriend, who believes this is an isolated case of infection.

When asked if this case is related to the Tuesday death of Madison Small, a senior at Broad Run High School in Ashburn, who medical examiners have said died from neisseria sepsis, the Health Department said it is not releasing the name of the individual who died of meningococcal meningitis.

Goodfriend did explain that, “One type of meningitis, bacterial meningococcal meningitis is caused by neisseria sepsis.”

The county also released the following information on meningococcal meningitis:

“The more common symptoms of meningitis include fever and chills, severe headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, photosensitivity (sensitivity to bright light) and possibly a rash. Infants and young children may be sleepy, irritable and feed poorly. It can take from two to 10 days from the time of exposure until symptoms develop.

“The bacteria that cause meningococcal meningitis are spread by direct contact with secretions (saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus) of an infected person. This can occur when an infected person coughs or sneezes in someone’s face, or by kissing or sharing personal items such as eating utensils, cups, water bottles, or lip balm/lipstick.”

“Our thoughts are with the family during this very difficult time,” said Goodfriend in a prepared statement. “The Health Department is evaluating all of the reports that we received to identify whether anyone is at an increased risk of infection.”

The last confirmed case of the infection in Loudoun was in January 2013.

Times-Mirror writer Anna Harris contributed to this report.


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