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FMH: Viral meningitis cases on the rise

Fairfield Memorial Hospital has seen an increase in Viral Meningitis cases in the past couple of months. Due to the increase in cases, FMH is taking precautions to educate the community about this illness.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. The most common causes are bacteria and viruses. Symptoms may include fever, headache, stiff neck, sleepiness or trouble waking up from sleep, nausea, vomiting, eye discomfort in bright light (photophobia), irritability and change in mental status. Infants may have poor feeding.

How can you prevent the spread of meningitis?

#1 Proper Hand-hygiene

· Regularly wash your hands with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand cleanser

· Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after changing diapers, using the toilet, or coughing or blowing your nose.

· Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

#2 Cough Etiquette

· Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your upper sleeve when you cough or sneeze.

· Do not cover your mouth or nose with your hands when you sneeze

· Always place your used tissue in the waste basket

#3 Additional Precautions

· Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.

· Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

· Stay home when you are sick

#4 Trust your instincts and see prompt medical attention if you are concerned.

Those of any age can get meningitis. However, some people have a higher risk of getting the disease, including: children younger than 5 years old, and people with weakened immune systems caused by diseases, medications (such as chemotherapy), and recent organ or bone marrow transplantations. Babies younger than 1 month old and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe illness.

“We as your healthcare leader want to stress the importance of seeing a healthcare provider right away if you think you or your child might have meningitis; a doctor can determine if you have the disease, the type of meningitis, and the best treatment,” stated Katherine Bunting-Williams, Ph.D., FMH CEO.