March 31, 2011

Teacher diagnosed with Viral Meningitis

Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- School district officials urge caution, but not panic, after announcing on Wednesday that an elementary school teacher has been diagnosed with viral meningitis.
In a letter sent home to parents on Wednesday, Londonderry Superintendent Nathan Greenberg said that the faculty member worked
 at both North and South elementary schools. 

Greenberg said the state Department of Health and Human Services has advised that there is “no public health issue at this time,” he wrote in the letter. 
Still the superintendent urged parents to be aware of the symptoms of viral men-ingitis, including high fever, severe headache and a stiff neck, and to contact a doctor immediately should issues arise. 
Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, rash, confusion or sleepiness, Greenberg said. Symptoms can develop in just a few hours or over the course of several days, he said. 
School Board Chairman John Robinson said the district was notified of the diagnosis yesterday and staff have since taken precautionary measures. 
“We’re doing everything we can, including sanitizing school facilities by following state instructions on disinfecting and wiping things down,” said Robinson. “We’re also making sure that we notify parents of any students that the staff member might’ve come in contact with.” 
But Robinson said state officials have assured Londonderry staff that there is no widespread risk to the public. 
“Viral meningitis is kind of hard to spread and it usually comes along with another virus,” he said. “You’re a lot more likely to get the primary virus and then have it turn into meningitis.” 
Viral meningitis is considered less dangerous than bacterial meningitis, he said. 
Kimberly Lynch, a parent and PTA president at South Elementary School, said yesterday’s announcement will not change her behavior. 
“(Meningitis) is always a concern to parents and as soon as we hear about this we’ll be calling our pediatricians saying, ‘Do we need to be concerned?’” she said. “But I’m a teacher in a different school district and there are kids sick all over the place. You just have to keep your kids as healthy as you can and keep them home when they are sick.” 
For many, the recent news brings back memories of Rebecca Tenney, the Londonderry junior who died after contracting viral meningitis last fall. 
But Robinson said state officials have said that tragedy is not likely to repeat itself in this situation. 
“We’re all still saddened and shaken by the loss of a young student last year, but I think that people understand that the cases are not connected,” he said. “I think people might be a little more troubled to hear the same diagnosis again, but the terrible tragedy with Becca was that it was a very unlikely and clearly unfortunate outcome of meningitis. We have no reason to think that will happen again.” 
Robinson said he did not know the identity or condition of the teacher involved. 

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