Tulsa Health Department Tracking Case After Baby Dies Of Bacterial Meningitis

Tuesday, April 15th 2014, 6:16 pm
By: News On 6

The Tulsa Health Department is on high alert after a meningitis scare. It's testing a woman - just released from the county jail - who was arrested hours after giving birth. Her baby boy died from bacterial meningitis five days later.

Major Shannon Clark of the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office said there is no threat to anyone at the jail - either staff or inmates.

The mother, Gayle Tom, gave birth Thursday. The next day she was arrested for failure to appear in court on drug-related complaints and brought to the jail.

Now health officials are doing everything they can to make sure they track down where the meningitis came from.

Before her son was 24 hours old, Gayle Tom was discharged from Hillcrest hospital then booked into jail.

Meanwhile, her baby contracted a rare form of bacterial meningitis and was rushed to St. John where nurses there were exposed to the contagious disease.

"They are gloved up, masked, and they have the gown on and things like that," said Nicole Schlaefli, epidemiologist. "Taking those precautions and putting that many barriers between you and the bacteria will actually help you to not get it."

The Tulsa City-County Health Department is monitoring people who may have been exposed.

"Normal symptoms are sensitivity to light, a fever, feeling very run down, vomiting. This specific - like when you get into baby this young - sometimes fever will not present," Schlaefli said.

Experts say it is too early to tell if the baby contracted the infection from the mother. Officials at the jail say there is no concern there - and people at home shouldn't worry either.

"I would say there is not a public health concern because this is one child," said epidemiologist Nicole Schlaefli.

"We've identified people who have highest risk and have already got them treated."

The treatment for bacterial meningitis is antibiotics, and although contracting it is rare, health officials say if you need peace of mind they offer vaccinations for $135. The vaccinations are given Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Find Out More About Immunizations From Tulsa Health Department