Viral Meningitis Cluster Breaks Out in Texas Schools

Workers disinfect classroom inside Canyon Creek Elementary School in Texas

A small cluster of viral meningitis has broken out in Central Texas. Over the past two weeks three cases have emerged in one school district. Most recently, a middle school staffer was diagnosed with the spinal swelling sickness.

On April 14, KWTX 10 reported that this latest case was diagnosed. Waco’s Midway Independent School District (ISD) notified parents, stating that the district only learned of the diagnosis the day before. The school has been since been sanitized. The week before, two students at the district’s Castleman Creek Elementary were confirmed as having the illness.  These students have since recovered and are back in school.

Approximately 20 miles northwest of Waco at Valley Mills ISD, Superintendent Dr. Judi Whitis confirmed a viral meningitis case on one of her campuses, according to KXXV 25. Staff was alerted on Tuesday, April 7. Classrooms, common areas and playground equipment were disinfected early the next morning before health experts confirmed the case.

The Waco Tribune reported one of these two students was in school the week of April 6 symptom free. District officials had been notified that the student was diagnosed with meningitis but were unaware of when he was sick.

Both school districts have notified parents of the outbreak. Students are encouraged to wash their hands regularly and stay home if they show any symptoms.

Viral meningitis is the most common type of the illness where inflammation of the tissue envelopes the brain and spinal cord. It is also a much milder form of the life-threatening bacterially-based version, which is more difficult to contract. In January, a Houston area high school freshman in Humble ISD, who had been hospitalized with the more severe bacterial strain, died.

Anyone can catch viral meningitis. It is a communicable disease that is transmitted through close contact with an infected person. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most recover on their own within a week to 10 days without any treatment. Infants younger than one month old, people with weakened immune systems and the elderly are more susceptible to the bacterial version.

It is tricky to recognize viral meningitis because the symptoms are similar to a cold or the flu and those symptoms can also vary. Infants may suffer with fever, irritability, poor eating, and lethargy, while adults may also have headaches, stiff necks and sensitivity to bright light. Initially, the viral symptoms can mirror the bacterial version.

Viral meningitis is considered a non-polio enterovirus. Last Fall, over a dozen Texas children came down with the deadlier Enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68) that in extreme cases lead to paralytic-type symptoms. Breitbart Texas reported on this respiratory killer that strikes children.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.