Final report on St. Joseph Central meningitis case


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News release from the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health:

Department releases final report on St. Joseph Central Elementary School meningitis case
Nearly 500 individuals received preventative antibiotics

(January 19, 2016) – The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health (DOH) and the Fort Wayne Community School system (FWCS) were informed on the evening of Friday, December 11, 2015 of a case of meningococcal disease in someone who was present at St. Joseph Central Elementary School. This disease is caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis and generally affects people in two ways:

  • Meningitis (an inflammation of the tissues covering the brain and or spinal cord)
  • Bloodstream infection (that usually leads to bleeding under the skin)

With support of the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the DOH conducted a contact investigation for a suspect case of Neisseria Meningitis in an Allen County resident. All family and healthcare contacts were provided preventative antibiotics. 100 percent of all close contacts were identified and treated.

Because of the circumstances associated with the person’s activities and potential for closeness to a large number of people at St. Joseph Central Elementary school, a collaborative decision with the DOH, ISDH and the CDC was made to offer preventative antibiotics to all students and faculty of the school present during the period of infectiousness for this disease (as well as to contacts identified of periphery activities in which the person was involved).

To ensure timely administration of the preventive antibiotic, a mass prophylaxis dispensary clinic was held on Tuesday, December 15, 2015, for students, faculty, and staff of the school. 449 people were provided with medication. The DOH partnered with Parkview Pharmacy for the event and they coordinated the on-site medication dispensary as well as the needed pharmacy consultation with patients. Prescriptions to local pharmacies were coordinated by the DOH for all other close household and periphery contacts identified in need of medication. The involved hospital coordinated prescriptions for all involved healthcare and emergency response personnel. FWCS provided a site for the mass dispensary and notified all parents and faculty of the potential exposure and set the hours for and location of the mass dispensing site. School nurses and volunteers systematically weighed all children and reviewed registration forms. In all, 496 people were provided preventative antibiotics.

Communication experts from the DOH, FWCS system, Parkview Regional Medical Center and ISDH developed and implemented a media strategy to inform the public in a timely manner of the both the infection and the planned interventions to minimize transmission to future cases. Two media events where held. In addition, a hotline was established to answer questions directly from the public. The hotline received 56 calls in two days.

Specimens were sent to the CDC for confirmation testing. On December 21, 2015, the ISDH notified the DOH that the specimen was indeed positive for Neisseria Meningitis. The patient has since been released from medical care and is now recovering.



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