Thursday, September 11, 2003

Illness strikes N.Ky. schools


Eight cases in Boone, Kenton

By William Croyle, Enquirer contributor
and Cindy Schroeder, The Cincinnati Enquirer

Ten Cincinnati-area students have been diagnosed with viral meningitis, but health officials say parents shouldn't be unduly concerned.

Principals in Northern Kentucky's two largest school systems - Boone County and Kenton County - as well as Bridgetown Middle School in Green Township, recently sent letters to parents about the cases. C.O. Harrison Elementary in Delhi Township also reported a case to Hamilton County health officials.

Unlike bacterial meningitis, which progresses more rapidly and has a fatality rate of 5 percent to 15 percent, viral meningitis generally results in flu-type symptoms and is rarely fatal, said Dr. Cynthia Yund, epidemiologist for the Hamilton County General Health District.

"I think people hear the word 'meningitis' and it's a frightening word,'' said Evie Van Herpe, epidemiology administrator for the Northern Kentucky Independent Health District. "It's almost a panic word. But viral meningitis is fairly common this time of year. In healthy people, it rarely causes any long-term complications.''

Van Herpe said most people with viral meningitis have mild symptoms, including headache, fatigue and a low-grade fever. Because viral meningitis can be spread through poor hygiene and respiratory secretions, infants and school-age children tend to be at highest risk, health officials said.

Seven cases of viral meningitis have been reported in the Kenton County School District. Caywood Elementary, Twenhofel Middle School and Turkey Foot Middle School each have reported one case, said Peter Lefaivre, executive director of secondary education and student support services. Piner Elementary and White's Tower Elementary each have two cases.

Of Kenton County Schools' cases, three or four students are related.

"The health and safety of all students is our priority,'' Lefaivre said. "Please remember, viral meningitis is an infection that is common at this time of year.''

David Sammons, principal of Burlington Elementary, said a parent reported the viral meningitis case to the school on Monday, and a letter was sent home with students that afternoon. He said all classrooms and desks were disinfected Monday night as a precaution.

"Looking at the realm of possibilities, the child could have contracted it here or somewhere else,'' Sammons said. "We don't know. We do have a rigorous policy for hand-washing.''

Kentucky health officials are not required to track cases of viral meningitis. Ohio does track cases, and health officials said cases of viral meningitis are down this year in Hamilton County and statewide.

E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com




REMEMBERING 9-11
Cincinnati remembers in solemn prayers, reflective moments
Schedule of local events
Updates on today's memorials across the country
Emotional impact of 9-11 blunts as world changes
PULFER: Still grieving? Blame the media
9-11 aftermath stays with Loveland man
How Greater Cincinnati marked the first anniversary
Profiles of area victims in the 2001 attacks
3-D graphic of plans for the World Trade Center site
Photos of the attacks on the World Trade Center
Photos of the attacks on the Pentagon
Photos of Flight 73
Special multimedia coverage from Gannett News Service

SPECIAL REPORT: VOLUNTEERISM SINCE 9-11
Strong at first, volunteer spirit has waned
Here's how to get involved
Profiles of local volunteers:
16-year-old helps kids get the chance to dance
Dad impresses by going fishing
Arthritis can't keep her from job
Helping others helps heal
Math tutor gets lesson
When disaster hits, he responds
Mentors ease the teen years
Variety is the spice of giving

EDITORIALS ON 9-11
Two years later, we must not forget
Other voices on the lessons of 9/11

IN THE TRISTATE
Drug suspect a wholesaler, police say
Morgue photographer's appeal refused
Kroger gets its garage, but not before debate
Developer tells plan for mixed complex
ODOT asks $155M for I-75
City rejects $20M condo project in E. Price Hill
1-dose tumor center opens
Regional Report
West End to get new YMCA

ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
Amos: 2-year steppingstone to college lost in UC shuffle
Howard: Good Things Happening

BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
Kings waits to broach tax hike
Monthly Chamber lunch like honey for candidates
Wastewater requests have some crying foul
Monroe Police Chief Howard sidelined by heart problems
Oxford half-marathon already draws hundreds
Suspect arrested in day-care purse snatching
'New' Harrison celebrates arts
Other riverfest has a lot to offer
Sewer overflows spout in Warren Co.
Officials at odds over cost of renovating court center

OBITUARIES
Coach helped soccer get a start
Billie Garnett, St. Henry mainstay
Kentucky obituaries

OHIO
Woman charged in death of alleged abductor
Ohio moments

KENTUCKY
Independence ex-councilman on probation
Kentucky Briefs
Florence official who stole sued
Boone school board member running for state House seat
Illness strikes N.Ky. schools
Park's reputation undergoing change