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Experts Hopeful That Spread Of Deadly Meningitis Outbreak Is Contained

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Experts believe that the antibiotics and now vaccinations will stop the spread of the disease that killed two Oologah-Talala students. Experts believe that the antibiotics and now vaccinations will stop the spread of the disease that killed two Oologah-Talala students.
Jeremiah Mitchell's condition is stabilizing but still very critical, his grandmother says. Jeremiah Mitchell's condition is stabilizing but still very critical, his grandmother says.
Karisa Pales is in a lot of pain and may have to have surgery, but may also be released from the hospital this week. Karisa Pales is in a lot of pain and may have to have surgery, but may also be released from the hospital this week.

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

UNDATED -- The Oklahoma Department of Health believes they have the measures in place to stop the spread of the disease in the deadly meningitis outbreak gripping Rogers County.

But fear still runs rampant as several children remain in the hospital.

Though no one is saying the danger is definitely over, health officials have given more than 1,000 doses of antibiotics to kill the bacteria that cause meningitis. And starting Friday, they're going to start vaccinating Oologah-Talala students and faculty to provide even more protection.

The vaccine they're using is only about five years old, and even the CDC says it won't protect everyone.

The vaccine is called Menactra, and the CDC says it's about 90 percent effective. Saint Francis' epidemiologist says Menactra kills off some of the most common types, including the one they believe is circulating now.

"If the health department tells you that you need to have a vaccine then you need to get the vaccine," said Dr. Mark Rowland, St. Francis epidemiologist.

But this vaccine does have shelf life, so children younger than 11-years-old may need a second vaccination before they go off to college.

3/17/2010 Related Story: Meningitis Investigation Focuses On Victims, Not Source Of Outbreak

In a check on some of meningitis patients who are still in the hospital, The News On 6 learned that the 1-year-old that doctors suspected might have meningitis is showing no signs of the disease today.

Jeremiah Mitchell's grandmother says the 6-year-old is stabilizing but is still in very critical condition. Doctors feared the worst for him earlier this week.

Karisa Pales, the 18-year-old high school senior, is still in a lot of pain and may have to have surgery. But she may be released from the hospital this week.

It's worth noting people do survive this disease and go on to live full lives.

Timber Eaton was a sophomore at Oklahoma State University when she caught meningitis. Now she's 25, married and healthy.

Vaccination Clinic Information:

A meningitis clinic to vaccinate students and staff from the Oologah-Talala School District will continue Friday, March 19 until 7 p.m. or until the last patient in line is served, but has been canceled for Saturday.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health and Rogers County Department of Health decided to cancel the second clinic that had been scheduled for Saturday due to the severe weather forecast.

The vaccination clinic is at the Oologah-Talala Lower Elementary School.

The clinic is designated only for students pre-K through seniors attending Oologah-Talala public schools, as well as district faculty and employees.

There will be no charge for the vaccine. Children who previously received antibiotics for disease prevention in the past week are still recommended to get the vaccine.

In addition to the vaccine clinic, representatives from the Oklahoma State Department of Health and local health department staff will be on hand in the Upper Elementary Gymnasium to answer questions from the public and provide information materials on meningococcal disease.

More About The Disease:

Symptoms of meningococcal disease may appear two to 10 days after infection, but usually appear within three to four days. People ill with meningococcal septicemia may have fever, nausea, vomiting, and a rash. People that are ill with meningitis will have fever, intense headache, nausea, vomiting, and a stiff neck.

It is important to seek care from a physician as soon as possible if these symptoms appear. If parents are unsure, they should still seek medical attention to protect their children. To find a clinic or doctor near you that participates in the program, call your county health department.

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

 

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