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Bacterial Meningitis Questions Answered

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A seventh student from the Oologah-Talala School District has been sickened by the strain of meningitis that has already killed two children from Oologah. A seventh student from the Oologah-Talala School District has been sickened by the strain of meningitis that has already killed two children from Oologah.
"Why one person does and another person has no problems at all with it, we don't know, but somewhere between 15 and maybe 50 percent of the general population carry it around in their nasal pharynx. Why it comes out, we don't know," said Dr. Mark Rowland. "Why one person does and another person has no problems at all with it, we don't know, but somewhere between 15 and maybe 50 percent of the general population carry it around in their nasal pharynx. Why it comes out, we don't know," said Dr. Mark Rowland.
"When you've got six cases in one elementary school, if that was my child I'd be saying, 'I want my child immunized,'" said Frankie Milley, Meningitis Angels Founder. "When you've got six cases in one elementary school, if that was my child I'd be saying, 'I want my child immunized,'" said Frankie Milley, Meningitis Angels Founder.

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

OOLOGAH, OK -- Officials from the Rogers County Health Department and Oklahoma State Department of Health have confirmed a female teenage student from the Oologah-Talala public school has developed meningococcal disease.

This increases the number of cases state and local public health officials are investigating to seven.

3/15/2010  Related Story: Oologah Senior Is The Latest Confirmed Meningitis Case 

Hundreds have flooded the state hotline looking for answers about bacterial meningitis.

Even with treatment, one in ten will die. Of the survivors, another one in five will have lasting injuries, like amputated limbs or mental retardation.

Doctors say the disease is rare, but the bacteria that causes it is very common.

"Why one person does and another person has no problems at all with it, we don't know, but somewhere between 15 and maybe 50 percent of the general population carry it around in their nasal pharynx. Why it comes out, we don't know," said Dr. Mark Rowland, Saint Francis Epidemiologist.

Clinics in Rogers County are using antibiotics to treat those who may have been exposed, but there is a way to protect your family, before the disease strikes.

"When you've got six cases in one elementary school, if that was my child I'd be saying, 'I want my child immunized,'" said Frankie Milley, Meningitis Angels Founder.

3/13/2010  Related Story: Founder Of Meningitis Angels: Oologah Families Are Not Alone

"Yeah, we recommend vaccination of children for this from age 11 and above. That's part of their standard vaccination at this point. This vaccine's only been available since 2005," said Dr. Rowland.

Oklahoma does not require the meningitis vaccine, although dozens of states do. A spokesperson with the state health department says they follow federal guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website emphasizes the vaccine is safe. You can have an allergic reaction, but it's not common to have anything more serious than redness or pain at the injection site.

Experts say bacterial meningitis cases are usually isolated and clusters like the one in Oologah are unusual. 

Only about 2,600 Americans contract bacterial meningitis every year. That's about the number of people who could fit inside Tulsa's Brady Theater. On the other hand, every year the seasonal flu kills the equivalent of the population of Bartlesville.

3/15/2010  Related Story: Community Says Goodbye To Oologah Boy Who Died In Meningitis Outbreak

For more information on meningococcal disease, visit the Oklahoma State Department of Health Web site and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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