More viral meningitis cases reported in Washoe County; predominantly in ages 5 to 17
The unusually high number of viral meningitis cases recently recorded in Susanville, CA and in Washoe County, NV continues to rise according to health officials.
Of specific concern is the large percentage of cases in one particular age group, children age 5 to 17 years-old. Since July 15, 2017 the 5 to17 year-old age group makes up over 53% of the locally-reported cases of meningitis, an inflammation of the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord, which can have serious health implications.
While we continue to investigate this outbreak with our public health partners in California and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we need to stress the importance of good hygiene, environmental cleaning, and personal exclusion in slowing down the spread of the virus,” said Washoe County Health District Epidemiologist Dr. Randall Todd. “Because this outbreak is so widespread throughout the area in a specific age group that may not practice the best hygiene habits, our prevention message needs to be community-wide and needs to stress some key points.
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:
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to bright light
- Sleepiness or trouble waking up from sleep
- 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.