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Washoe County's viral meningitis outbreak at 47 cases

(MGN Online)

The number of viral meningitis cases reported in Washoe County is climbing.

According to the Washoe County Health District, there are now 47 cases of viral meningitis in the county since July 15, up from the more than 30 cases reported in October 2017.

"The outbreak is still ongoing," says WCHD spokesperson Phil Uliabarri, adding that the cases are still being investigated.

Of the 47 cases, 43 of them required some form hospitalization.

Seventy-five percent of the cases were in children ages 0 to 17 years old. Fifty-five percent of them were found in school-age children ranging from 5 to 17 years old.

Ulibarri says the county is working with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) during its investigation.

Viral meningitis is an inflammation of the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord that is caused by a virus. It is typically less severe than bacterial meningitis, and most people recover on their own within 7-10 days.

How to avoid contracting viral meningitis:

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after changing diapers, using the toilet, or coughing or blowing your nose;

Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands;

Avoid common playing areas for children such as inflatable bounce houses and slides;

Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing cups, water bottles, sports drinks or eating utensils with others who may be sick;

Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve, not your hands;

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, handrails, light switches, desks, keyboards, computer mice, phones, toys, playground equipment, bathrooms, etc.; and,

Always stay home when you are sick.

In addition to these steps the Washoe County Health District highly recommends organizations that host group activities for children conduct deep environmental cleanings using a bleach solution (1/2 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water) or other disinfectants proven to be effective against enterovirus, one of common causes for viral meningitis. Environmental surfaces should include frequently-touched areas such as doorknobs, handrails, light switches, desks, keyboards, computer mice, phones, toys, playground equipment, bathrooms, etc.

Consider deep cleaning the following items:

Households with any ill person recently diagnosed with viral meningitis;

Community sports and social clubs that involve children;

Daycare facilities, group homes, and extended care facilities;

Public museums, especially those for children; and,

Organizations and businesses with recreational equipment, play grounds and other activities for children (e.g., churches, after school programs, etc.).

Symptoms of viral meningitis:

Fever

Headache

Stiff neck

Sensitivity to bright light

Sleepiness or trouble waking up from sleep

Nausea

Vomiting

Lack of appetite

How viral meningitis is transmitted:

Having close contact, such as touching or shaking hands, with an infected person

Touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them

Changing diapers of an infected person

Drinking water that has the virus in it

For more information on viral meningitis visit www.cdc.gov/meningitis/viral.html.

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