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Two Students From Oologah Elementary School Die From Bacterial Meningitis

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Oologah Talala Lower Elementary School Oologah Talala Lower Elementary School
Andrew Gregory Thomas [photo courtesy Oologah Lake Leader] Andrew Gregory Thomas [photo courtesy Oologah Lake Leader]
The Oologah-Talala Lower Elementary School holds classes for Pre-K through second grade students. The Oologah-Talala Lower Elementary School holds classes for Pre-K through second grade students.
Public health officials stress that the general public is not at risk. Public health officials stress that the general public is not at risk.

NewsOn6.com

OOLOGAH, OK -- The State Health Department confirms that a second student at Oologah-Talala Lower Elementary School has died of meningococcal disease. Four other students are hospitalized.

State and local public health officials are investigating and say laboratory testing has confirmed two cases of meningococcal disease.

In a news conference Thursday afternoon, Oologah-Talala Public School Superintendent Rick Thomas announced that a 7-year-old boy had died from bacterial meningitis.

Oologah Dolton Funeral Home has identified the boy on its web site as 7-year-old Andrew Gregory Thomas of Oologah.

According to the state medical examiner's office, the 8-year-old girl who died Thursday is Shuache Moua. She was a second grader in the Oologah-Talala Lower Elementary School.

The Oologah newspaper, the Oologah Lake Leader, says on its web site that the father of the boy told the paper the Andrew was sent home from school Wednesday afternoon with apparent flu symptoms and the family took him to an Owasso hospital later Wednesday evening.

Four other students in the lower elementary school (grades pre-k through second) have become ill with symptoms.  Those four students remain in the hospital.  

The students began showing symptoms between March 7 and March 10.

As a preventive measure, local and state health department personnel were on site Thursday working with school officials to offer antibiotics to lower and upper elementary school children and anyone else who had close contacts with cases.

The school and the health department is still offering shots Friday beginning at 9 a.m. in the Lower Elementary School gym. Parental consent is required for the medication.

The school district used its automated phone system to notify parents about the clinic.

Superintendent Thomas says the district has canceled classes and all school activities for Friday. 

Public health officials stress that the general public is not at risk.

3/11/2010 Related Story: Oologah Schools, Health Department Work To Contain Deadly Illness

State Health Department officials say only persons who've had close, personal contact with someone with a meningococcal infection have a risk of developing the disease and that that risk is only slightly increased.

Thomas is asking parents to remain calm until the health department makes recommendations on what actions should be taken.

The medical team, which includes a doctor, screened more than 100 people including faculty. They are offering antibiotics to other students and faculty in the district. They have enough medication for about 1,000 people, authorities say.

Click here to read about meningitis.

Students from Pre-K through second grade attend the Lower Elementary School, but all Oologah-Talala schools are on the same campus in Oologah.

Thomas says he was notified Thursday at 9 a.m. about the student's death.  He says he immediately contacted the health department. 

In the press conference, people were reminded that the main symptoms of bacterial meningitis are fever, headache and a rash.  People may also experience a stiff neck and vomiting.

The state health department has set up a phone bank to answer questions. Call 1-866-278-7134 Friday until 5 p.m.

In a Friday statement, the Oklahoma Health Department offers the following advice:

The 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.

Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis.  Many healthy people carry meningococcal bacteria in their nose and throat without any symptoms.  Usually, the bacteria stay in the nose and throat for a few days and will then disappear.  The bacteria are spread from person-to-person by direct contact with secretions from the nose and throat.  The reason that the organism disappears in some people and produces illness in others is not clearly understood but is probably related to individual susceptibility.

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