Health officials investigating 2 meningitis cases

KITTITAS COUNTY NEWS RELEASE -- Two potential cases of bacterial meningitis have been identified in Kittitas County. Both patients are from the same family and were in the Kittitas Valley Community Hospital (KVCH) Emergency Department on June 28 and July 3. Since then, both patients have been transferred to other hospital facilities.

Bacterial meningitis can be a contagious disease spread through the exchange of respiratory or throat secretions. However, the bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.

The Kittitas County Public Health Department (KCPHD) and KVCH are working together and have contacted all KVCH employees and volunteers who came into close contact with the patients. After thorough review, KVCH and KCPHD have not identified any other KVCH patients who may have been potentially exposed to the disease while at the hospital facility.

Bacterial meningitis is usually severe and can cause serious complications such as brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities, or death. There are about 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis per year in the United States, including 500 deaths.

Signs and symptoms of the disease typically include a sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, and altered mental status (confusion). Symptoms can appear quickly or over several days, typically within 3-7 days after exposure. Risk factors that can increase the risk for bacterial meningitis include age less than one month, living in a community setting such as a dormitory, and certain medical conditions.

If you suspect you or a family member may have meningitis, please contact your primary care provider.