Is Northeast Oklahoma Seeing A Meningitis Outbreak?
TULSA, Oklahoma - The Oklahoma State Health Department recently confirmed a meningitis case in Pawnee County. The four-month old boy who died Sunday attended the Blossom Child Care Center in Sand Springs.
The Tulsa City-County Health Department says five childcare staff members and 14 infants were recommended to start antibiotic treatment as a precaution.
The health department says while the infant was confirmed to have meningitis, we shouldn't be worried that there is not an increased or unusual number of meningitis cases in the state.
Even experts say the disease is complicated. And explanations can be confusing.
"There are different strains of the bacteria but even that isn't that important because they cause the same problems, we treat them the same way, they are transmitted the same way," said Dr. Mitch Duininck.
The Centers for Disease Control says more than 1,000 people get meningitis in the U.S. each year. Anyone can get the disease but it's most common in infants and 16-21 year olds.
Doctors say people can be carriers of the disease and never get sick themselves. The health department says there is no way to test to see if you are a carrier.
"There are healthy people who carry the disease in their nose and throat and never reveal any type of symptoms. It is a bit of a mystery on how it impacts a healthy person or perhaps a younger person," said Melanie Christian of the Tulsa City-County Health Department.
There are two kinds of vaccines to protect against meningitis. One for people over 55. And another for younger people.
Sometimes the vaccine isn't enough.
"We can't prevent every disease in every child. We've been able to do a lot," Said Dr. Duininck.
A lot of cases go unreported because the disease sometimes doesn't develop into a threat that doctors or the health department would consider alarming.
From 2005 to 2009, the OSDH says there were 18 reportable and confirmed cases state wide. There were 11 cases last year alone.
"Across the state we are not seeing an increase in cases that has us concerned that something unusual is going on," Melanie Christian said.
Prevention is really the key with good hand washing and good personal hygiene.