NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - "We've identified a person in the school who has meningococcal meningitis, and your child may have been exposed." In a letter sent out to parents, the Peninsula Health District warns the severity of the situation. However, the letter never specified which school.
"It didn't say anything about any schools in the letter. Somebody could get this and not know anything," Kimberly Rose, whose daughter attends Warwick High School.
Just before 11 a.m. Thursday, Newport News Schools sent out another statement listing Sedgefield Elementary, Crittenden Middle, Huntington Middle and Warwick High Schools, saying they all received the letter from the Peninsula Health District. The statement also says the person diagnosed served multiple school locations.
The Peninsula Heath District says meningococcal meningitis, also known as spinal meningitis, is rare but deadly when developed, which is why they sent out the letter to parents immediately.
"It can be extremely serious, often fatal. Up to 15 percent of people die even with antibiotics and those who have survived may have damaged their nervous system or their hearing," says Dr. S. William Berg with the Peninsula Health District.
The Peninsula Health District says the disease is spread when people cough, sneeze or share items that have been in contact with their mouths.
Doctors say some symptoms parents should look out for are light sensitivity to the eyes, severe headaches, a stiff neck, fever, vomiting and rashes. If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, you should take them to a doctor as quickly as possible.