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Maine CDC Confirms Case of Meningococcal Disease at Wiscasset School

June 12, 2019
Human Services

AUGUSTA – The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) has confirmed a case of meningococcal disease in a student who attends Wiscasset Middle High School. Lab tests confirmed the case on June 11, 2019.

There is very little risk to the public from this case.

Maine CDC has informed Wiscasset Middle High School and local medical facilities of the case and is working with them to notify exposed individuals. The student attended two public events during their infectious period: the Wiscasset Middle High School Alumni Banquet on Saturday, June 1st and the Wiscasset Middle High School Graduation on Thursday, June 6th. There are no specific actions that students, staff, or visitors to the school, alumni banquet, or graduation should take in response.

"The risk to the public is very low," said Maine CDC Director Nirav D. Shah, MD, JD. "Mainers should be aware of this disease, so they can seek medical attention promptly if they have any of the symptoms."

Meningococcal disease can first appear as a flu-like illness and rapidly worsen. The most common symptoms include fever, headache and stiff neck. Ill persons may also have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, photophobia (eyes being more sensitive to light), a dark purple rash, or altered mental status or confusion.

Meningococcal disease refers to any illness caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, which can cause infections of the bloodstream or lining of the brain or spinal cord. These illnesses can range from mild to severe. The bacteria are spread from person-to-person through saliva. They are not spread through the air, on surfaces, or in the stool or urine. Meningococcal disease is not as contagious as the common cold or flu. It typically takes close or lengthy contact, such as kissing and sharing food or drinks, to spread these bacteria.

Close contacts include people who live with the individual, and anyone who has had direct contact with the individual's saliva. Close contacts can receive antibiotics, which can prevent the disease. Maine CDC is working closely with the student's family and with area doctors to ensure close contacts of the student receive antibiotics. Classmates, teachers, staff, and graduation attendees are not considered close contacts and Maine CDC does not recommend antibiotics for them. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact your health care provider or Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821.

Keeping up to date with vaccinations is the best way to prevent this disease. For questions about vaccination, please contact the Maine CDC Immunization Program at 800-867-4775 or immunizeme@maine.gov.

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