Test results confirm meningitis diagnosis
Dr. Randy Todd wishes he had a high-tech answer to preventing the spread of viruses. A gadget for people to buy might gather more attention than the simple solution.
“Plain old soap and water used liberally is just not very exciting,” said Todd, the state epidemiologist.
Todd is trying to prevent the spread of an enterovirus responsible for causing one confirmed case of viral meningitis in Carson City.
Additional cases have been reported in other communities, including Sacramento, Southern California desert areas, Colorado and Georgia.
“Looking at this from a national perspective, these viruses tend to go around in the summer,” Todd said. “This number of apparent viral meningitis cases appears to be a bit more than what is normally seen.”
Viral meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and central nervous system. Although it sounds awful and can be serious, most people have had it — and gotten over it — at one time or another, health officials said.
Symptoms, which can include dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, fever and body aches, usually last from seven to 10 days. The virus is spread through stool, saliva or sneezes, making children more susceptible. Proper hygiene can prevent its spread.
Most of the time — 90 percent — it is caused by an enterovirus, said Martha Framsted, public information officer for the state health department.
There are multiple strains of enterovirus, Todd said, but the treatment for them and prevention methods are the same. He said only a few of those who have the virus develop viral meningitis.
The state became involved when five children between ages 2 and 3 were admitted to Carson-Tahoe Hospital’s pediatric unit last week. Several of them remained in the hospital for several days. Carson City Environmental Health officials said the children attended the same Carson City day-care center.
“There’s really not much we can do, but educate for proper hand washing, monitoring children if they are sick,” said Dustin Boothe, environmental health specialist for Carson City.
Boothe said sick children need to be excluded from day care or school for seven days after the onset of illness. Concerned parents should call their doctor.
Proper hand-washing techniques include:
— Use water as hot as you can stand it
— Soap hand and arms thoroughly to the elbow
— Scrub under nails with a nail brush
— Rub hands together for 20 seconds
— Rinse hands under running water
— Dry hands with single-use paper towels or a hot-air dryer