Meningitis case reported at Miramar’s Fairway Elementary

A case of bacterial meningitis has been reported at Miramar’s Fairway Elementary school, with parents of children at the school being warned to look out for meningitis symptoms such as high fever, chills, fatigue and rash.

A letter from the school’s principal to parents recommends that “you take your child to your healthcare provider immediately” if any symptoms are observed. Additional symptoms associated with the illness include confusion, intense headaches, nausea, vomiting, and stiffness in the neck or spine.

Symptoms can occur anywhere from two to 10 days after exposure, though usually within five days.

Most people infected with the disease recover, but it can be fatal in some cases. In October, an 18-year-old student at Miami-Dade’s Coral Reef Senior High School died from meningitis. A year before that, a first-grader at Hollywood’s Beachside Montessori died from the disease.

Dr. Paula Thaqi, director of Broward County’s Health Department, said the department does not release details in individual meningitis cases, though Thaqi said the reported case at Fairway Elementary “was not fatal.”

“These bacteria are not as contagious as what causes the common cold or flu,” Thaqi wrote in an e-mail. “The bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with [meningitis] has been.”

It is people who come in close contact with an infected person (such as household members) who are generally at risk of contracting the disease. Once a person is infected, bacterial meningitis can progress rapidly — potentially causing complications such as brain damage, hearing loss, or learning disabilities.

As a precaution, children at Fairway Elementary are instructed to receive two days’ worth of antibiotics, starting immediately.

The Broward school district declined comment, saying only that it is working “in close collaboration with the Broward County Health Department.”