Central Kansas adult dies of suspected meningitis


BARTON COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – The Barton County Health Department and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are collaborating with health care and other public health partners to investigate the death of a central Kansas adult due to suspected meningitis.

BCHD said that while laboratory results are not final but the death is suspected to be caused by Neisseria meningitidis, which can cause severe and fatal cases of meningococcal meningitis. Meningococcal meningitis is an infection of the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Symptoms for meningococcal meningitis are:

  • sudden onset of fever
  • headache
  • stiff neck
  • chills
  • unusually weak or tired
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • altered mental state
  • dark purple rash

BCHD is working to identify all persons at high risk of exposure to the individual and are actively providing recommendations for antibiotic prophylaxis. Currently, there is no evidence to suggest the general public is at an increased risk of developing meningitis. N. meningitidis is only spread from person-to-person by sharing throat or respiratory secretions (saliva or spit).  You must be in close contact with a sick person’s saliva or respiratory secretions in order for the bacteria to spread. Close contact can include being directly sneezed or coughed upon, kissing, sharing a water bottle, or sharing eating/drinking utensils.  It is not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends post-exposure antibiotics for household, close, or intimate contacts during the 7 days prior to illness onset.  Healthcare professionals who had unprotected contact with the respiratory secretions will also receive post-exposure antibiotics.

If you are experiencing symptoms of meningococcal meningitis, immediately visit your primary care physician, an urgent care medical clinic or emergency room.

If you have any questions, please contact the Barton County Health Department at 620-793-1902.

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