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Bell Hill student treated for meningitis

A second-grade student in Grass Valley contracted bacterial meningitis and was airlifted Friday to a hospital in Sacramento, school and health officials said.

The parents of the 8-year-old boy and county officials notified school officials Monday, said Grass Valley School Superintendent Jon Byerrum, who could not recall a similar case in his 13 years with the district.

The ill boy was fine by Monday. Left untreated, bacterial meningitis can be fatal.



As a precautionary measure, all 60 of Bell Hill’s second-graders will be offered a dose of antibiotics, Byerrum said. A public health nurse will dispense the free medication today and Wednesday, he said.

Parents are encouraged to accompany students to school when the optional medicine is dispensed, Byerrum said.




Antibiotics were also given over the weekend to about 33 youngsters on the boy’s football team, said Hank Foley, Nevada County Community Health Department director.

“We’re doing the antibiotics just to be on the safe side,” Foley said. “Kids often share their … water bottles.”

Foley found out about the meningitis Friday afternoon, after being notified by Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital that the boy was airlifted to the University of California at Davis Medical Center in Sacramento with a high fever.

The boy was doing very well by Monday, according to a letter sent to the parents of all 60 second-graders at the school.

“He’s back to normal,” the boy’s father was quoted as saying.

This is the second meningitis warning sent home to Nevada County parents in as many weeks. A 26-year-old man was diagnosed with the disease, but Foley couldn’t say if that’s the person from whom the 8-year-old caught it.

Parents were told last week that several high school students had come in contact with the man diagnosed with meningitis.

“We don’t know where the (younger) student picked this up from,” Byerrum said.

The district also sent a mailer to the families of all 2,000 students Monday.

The parents of all second-graders received a separate letter and were to be contacted by phone, Byerrum said.

Shirley Smith, grandmother of a 5-year-old kindergartner at Bell Hill, was not aware that a student had contacted meningitis when she picked up her grandson from school Monday. But she knows what to look for, she said. “It’s kind of scary, though.”

Bacterial meningitis symptoms include high fever, nausea, vomiting, severe headache, a stiff and painful neck, a sore throat, malaise and a rash.

– Tim Omarzu contributed to this report.


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