Yarmouth schools report 2 cases of viral meningitis

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YARMOUTH — Two local students have been diagnosed with viral meningitis.

The first reported case was at Harrison Middle School; last week, a Yarmouth High School student was diagnosed, too.

Superintendent of Yarmouth Schools Andrew Dolloff alerted parents throughout the district on Oct. 2. On Tuesday he said the students aren’t related and he doesn’t believe they had been in contact with each other. He said he’s also not sure where or when they were exposed to the illness.

These aren’t the only recent cases of viral meningitis in the state. Other cases have been reported at schools in York County, but the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention couldn’t provide specific information because there’s no requirement for viral meningitis to be reported.

Dolloff said staff at the Yarmouth schools are working to make sure no other students will be infected.

“All necessary health measures and precautions are being implemented to safeguard students and staff in the Yarmouth Schools,” he said in a press release. “Please know we are working closely with the family, medical professionals, and appropriate officials to monitor this information and respond as needed per (Center for Disease Control) guidelines.”

Dolloff said the precautions include cleaning the schools and educating students and staff about how to protect themselves.

“Our Facilities Maintenance staff is redoubling efforts to clean surfaces such as table tops, door handles, restrooms, and locker rooms during the day,” he said. “Should additional precautions become necessary we will update you accordingly.”

According to Dolloff’s press release, in which he cited the CDC, viral meningitis is less severe than bacterial meningitis, which can be fatal. He also said viral meningitis is less contagious and people often recover without treatment.

Meningitis is “an inflammation of the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord,” the press release said. Symptoms can include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite.

According to John Martins, a spokesman for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been four cases of the more severe bacterial meningitis recently, and everyone recovered. Between April and August, there were two cases in Cumberland County, one in Aroostook County, and one in Washington County.

Dolloff said the two infected students were back in school on Tuesday.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.