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Meningitis outbreak spurs action at Tahoe-area high school

TRUCKEE, Calif. – A meningitis outbreak among three students at Tahoe-Truckee High School has prompted health officials to administer an antibiotic pill to their classmates.

Nevada County Health Department officials said they gave a single dose of Cipro, an antibiotic that has proven effective in preventing meningitis, to most students Friday.

”(Such an outbreak) is very unusual,” Cheryl Montague, department director of nursing, told the Sierra Sun newspaper. ”That is why we are taking such swift action in this.”



The students – two girls and a boy between the ages of 15 and 16 – were diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis after being taken to Tahoe Forest Hospital earlier in the week.

The girls were listed in stable condition Saturday. The boy has been discharged, but continues to be given antibiotics at home.



Meningitis can cause serious illness and death. Its symptoms include sudden fever, headaches, nausea and vomiting.

Hospital nursing supervisor Tami Prior said a patient died there from the disease in February.

”Fortunately, we don’t get that many cases. It’s reasonably rare,” she said.

Montague said health officials do not know exactly how the disease was spread.

”It is spread by directly sharing bodily fluids, such as saliva,” Montague said. ”Most people don’t get this disease even if they are exposed. Even with exposure, only one half percent of people develop the illness.”

Students said they were concerned about their three classmates.

”Apparently, all three stufdents went to the same party,” senior Kelly Collins said. ”Now everyone’s wondering, ‘did I drink out of their water bottle at the ski race, did I use their chapstick?”’

Junior Kaitlin Steverman said she was shocked to learn one of the three was a close friend.

”’I really didn’t think it was a big deal until Thursday when everybody was here panicking,” Steverman said. ”It’s weird that the people who got it were barely associated.”

On Thursday, students were notified of the outbreak and given permission slips to be signed by parents to allow them to take the antibiotic pill.

Steverman volunteered to help hand out the pill to students Friday.

”Pretty much every student we could get a hold of took a pill,” she said.

AP-WS-12-16-00 1954EST


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