Another NJ school district reports viral meningitis cases this week
MOUNT OLIVE — At least one student on the Mount Olive High School football team has tested positive for viral meningitis, with district officials saying there may be a possible second case.
A case of viral meningitis was reported earlier this week as well in the Lacey Township school district in Ocean County.
In a letter sent home by the Mount Olive district on Wednesday, the district confirmed the one positive case, saying "there may be an additional diagnosis pending lab results."
"While this can be very upsetting, the chance of your child or you also becoming ill with this disease is very small," Superintendent Larrie Reynolds says in the letter.
Reynolds told New Jersey 101.5 that the student who was confirmed to have the virus has already been treated and has been cleared to return to school and to the football team. The second case has not been confirmed but Reynolds said he has been told by the parents that it is likely viral meningitis. A third student who got sick at the same time likely does not have the virus, according to Reynolds.
Because the two cases are connected to the football team, Reynolds said the district has worked to sterilize and disinfect areas that players may have come in contact with. This includes their buses, helmets, water bottles, and other equipment. Similar steps have also been taken in the classrooms the students use.
Reynolds said it is important to remember that it's "not easy to get the disease."
The district said the virus is most common in the summer and fall, and is more frequently found in children. The district said most cases are caused by common stomach viruses called by enteroviruses, which can be spread by bodily fluids including saliva and stool, but most people do not develop an infection.
Reynolds said he had a meeting on Thursday with local health officials.
"We think we've caught this at the very early stages so we're hopeful we may not see any more kids come down with hit," he said.
With the Jewish high holiday of Rosh Hashanah starting on Friday night, Reynolds said the school's football game against West Morris Central High School was moved to Thursday night. He said because of the steps taken by the school, and the fact that there have only been two cases reported, the game will go ahead as scheduled. He said the decision was made after consulting with administrators and athletic directors at both schools.
Reynolds said even with the steps taken by the district, it is important for parents to be vigilant in monitoring the health of their children. Symptoms such as headache, stomach ache, and fever can be common this time of year. He said students should be checked for the flu, and parents should also specifically ask if it could be viral meningitis. He said one symptom that separates the virus from others is a stiff neck. If children report this problem it should also be reported to doctors.
The district's letter said most cases of viral meningitis can be treated with rest and fever medication. The letter encourages anyone with questions about the virus to call the Mount Olive Department of Health at 973-691-0900 ext. 7330.
Also on New Jersey 101.5: