No confirmed cases of meningitis in Williamson County Schools
By Donna O'Neil, Managing Editor
Williamson County Schools Director of Schools Dr. Mike Looney held a press conference this morning to allay fears that meningitis is in county schools.
Concerns have been raised following two letters from Oak View Elementary School Acting Principal Kate Donnelly sent to parents indicated a handful of parents had self-reported their children had meningitis-like symptoms.
A letter dated Sept. 20 stated: “We have had an increase in students presenting with signs and symptoms of severe viral illness. As a precautionary response, we want to inform parents and guardians of measures to take at home in response to this letter. … [The Williamson County Health Department] has asked us to emphasize the importance of taking your children to the doctor if they show signs of illness, including but not limited to severe headache, fever nausea, and vomiting.”
Looney stated this morning that four families with up to seven children had originally reported symptoms, however within the last two weeks, some of those parents called to retract reports of their children exhibiting signs of meningitis.
As a precautionary measure, he said, “additional cleaning occurred both at Oak View Elementary and on the buses that service that school. Boys and girls are being encouraged to wash their hands and to practice good hygiene. We want to keep our boys and girls healthy.”
Donnelly sent a second letter to parents on Sept. 25 stating: “an increased number of students showing symptoms of severe viral illness. As confirmed by some Oak View parents, several students have developed viral meningitis and some have required hospitalization.”
Donnelly included the preventative measures and information from the Centers for Disease Control in her letter to parents. For information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/index.html.
Despite the wording in the letter, Looney stated that he knew of no children who had been hospitalized and maintained that no cases of meningitis had been confirmed.
Looney confirmed that no other schools had reported similar symptoms among students or teachers. He also stated that the press conference was in response to parental concern and he feels that the situation has been resolved. “We have been in contact with he state health officials who have not confirmed any cases of meningitis in Williamson County,” he said.
He also said that throughout the past two weeks attendance at the school has been in the area of 95 percent and as late as yesterday up to 97.9 percent.
Bill Christian, spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Health echoed Looney’s meningitis report. “As of this morning [Tuesday, Oct. 2] the State Department of Health cannot confirm any cases of meningitis in Williamson County.”
Looney told the gathering this morning, “One culture was reported as suspicious, but it is not a confirmed case of meningitis.”
Parents are on high alert after media reports of 11 cases of fungal meningitis were reportedly associated with St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville. All of those cases have ties to Nashville or Metro Schools and none to Williamson County.
Posted on: 10/2/2012