Duluth Middle School student hospitalized with meningitis

DULUTH - A seventh-grader at Duluth Middle School has been hospitalized with bacterial meningitis, an uncommon illness that is difficult to spread.

Principal Kay Harvey sent home a letter informing parents of the situation. She stressed that chances were low of other students contracting the disease. Bacterial meningitis is usually transmitted through prolonged exposure to an infected person. It can spread through kissing or other exchanges of saliva.

"Although the risk to other students is remote, I feel it is important for our parents and community to be aware of this situation," Harvey wrote. "The Health Department has suggested that you observe your child over the next few days for possible signs and symptoms of meningitis."

The most common symptoms include high fever, intense headaches and a stiff neck, according to the East Metro Health District. Other symptoms are dizziness, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to bright light.

Bacterial meningitis is caused by inflammation of the tissues that cover the brain and spinal tissue. It can be treated with antibiotics. But if it isn't treated quickly, it can cause seizures, brain damage, coma and death.

For more information about meningitis, call the East Metro Health District at 770-339-4260.