“Hopefully, it’s an isolated incident and it’s been caught,” said Bonny Fahy, Prince William County Schools spokeswoman.
The teenage boy, who has not been publicly identified, is hospitalized at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church for bacterial meningitis. His siblings attend Kilby Elementary and Fred Lynn Middle schools in Woodbridge. To keep other students from contracting the disease, his siblings will be kept at home until doctors give them clearance to return to school.
Although physicians will not talk about his condition, Kim Perry, Fairfax Hospital spokeswoman said that “he is in good condition.”
“We’re not providing physicians to talk about this,” she said.
He is no longer on a ventilator, said Teresa Polk, Prince William County School Services administrative coordinator.
School officials have notified all parents of children at Woodbridge Senior High, Fred Lynn Middle and Kilby Elementary schools who may have had a class with the student or his siblings.
If any children develop a severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting or a rash, parents or guardians should contact a physician or go to the emergency room, Polk said.
Meningitis is caused by viruses or bacteria and is spread by direct contact with discharge from an infected person’s nose or throat, she said.
“It’s an inflammation of the lining around the brain,” Polk said.
About 5 to 10 percent of people carry the bacteria in their throat and nose, but may never show symptoms. A person directly exposed to the respiratory or oral secretions of an infected person may be more at risk, Polk said.
“All of us carry all types of viruses in our system,” she said.
The bacteria spreads in “close contact” situations with the infected person by sharing utensils or drinking from the same cup. Risk may be higher among family members, since they have more direct contact with the infected person, Polk said.
Students who go to school with the student’s siblings may have had casual contact with the disease. Casual contact situations may include students who have not had direct contact with the student infected, Polk said.
“Casual contact is not going to cause you to be infected,” he said.
Even if the students have had a class with the student infected or the student’s siblings, (it) does not mean they are at risk. Students who are not ill today or didn’t have symptoms over the weekend are probably fine,” Polk said.