State health department confirms case of Meningococcal disease at Scottsboro Junior High

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. – Officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed that there has been a reported case of Neisseria meningitidis at Scottsboro Junior High School.

“Public Health has already began contacting parents and contacts during our investigation to make them aware of the exposure, disease details and to ensure that they make sure that their children are up to date on their vaccination,” said Dr. Karen Landers, Medical Officer for the Northern/Northeastern Districts. “We want to make sure that parents look for the appropriate signs and symptoms, and that they contact their private health care provider or county health department with any questions or concerns.”

Meningococcal is highly contagious and is spread to others by close contact with respiratory and throat secretions, such as saliva or spit. The bacteria can be spread by kissing, drinking from the same container, sharing eating utensils, cigarettes, or lipstick.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease include, but are not limited to, a sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck, confusion and sometimes a rash. There is currently a meningococcal B vaccine recommended for teens. In addition, there is a meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4), which protects teens from A, C, W and Y strains. Disease outbreaks typically occur in communities, schools, colleges and other high-risk populations.

“This is a highly contagious disease that is spread to others within 2 to 10 days by contact through respiratory and throat secretions, such as saliva or spit,” said Dr. Landers. “Because of this fact, we have informed parents of steps they need to take to determine if they should take their child to the doctor and to reduce the spread of the disease.”

If your child is not up-to-date for all school vaccines, as well as their meningococcal vaccine, please take them to your doctor or the county health department to ensure protection from preventable disease.

Parents are advised to be alert for the signs of the disease, including but not limited to a sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck, confusion, and sometimes a rash. If your child develops any of these symptoms, they should immediately be taken to a doctor or to the emergency room to be evaluated.

Meningococcal Vaccine

Who should get the meningococcal vaccine?

  • Meningococcal vaccine(s) is recommended for all preteens and teens.
  • All 11 and 12-year-olds should be vaccinated with serogroups A, C, W, and Y meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4). A booster dose is recommended at age 16.
  • Teens and young adults, 16 through 23-year-olds, may also be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (SBMV), preferably at 16 through 18 years old.
  • Both MCV4 and SBMV can be given at the same time, talk to your provider.
  • Teens with HIV should get three doses of MCV4.
  • People 55 years of age and older should get Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4).
  • People at increased risk (ex: no spleen or poor spleen, autoimmune disease) during an outbreak, should be vaccinated.

Who should be vaccinated because they are at increased risk?

  • College freshmen living in dormitories.
  • Laboratory personnel exposed to meningococcal bacteria.
  • U.S. military recruits.
  • Anyone traveling or living where meningococcal disease is common, like Africa.
  • Anyone with a damaged spleen or who had the spleen removed.
  • Anyone with an immune system disorder.
  • Anyone exposed during a meningococcal meningitis outbreak.

What are the vaccine side effects and risks?

  • MCV4 and SBMV are safe, but side effects can occur.
  • Most side effects are mild or moderate and do not affect daily activities.
  • The most common side effects in preteens and teens occur where the injection is given and may include pain, tenderness, swelling, and hardness of the skin.
  • Other common side effects may include nausea, feeling a little run down, and headache.
  • Some preteens and teens may also faint after getting a vaccine.
  • Reactions usually last a short time and get better within a few days.

Where can I find more information?

  • Ask your doctor or local county health department.
  • Email the Alabama Department of Public Health, Immunization Division at Immunization@adph.state.al.us.
  • Go to cdc.gov and type ‘meningococcal vaccine’ in the SEARCH box.