3 California students diagnosed with viral meningitis


SHINGLE SPRINGS, Calif. (KTXL/CNN) – Three students in one California school district caught viral meningitis.

Officials have scrubbed down the schools and are keeping a close watch on students. Now, Ponderosa High School is a much cleaner version of itself – much cleaner than it was this time last week.

That’s Thanks to a weekend-long, bleach-based cleaning outlined by the health department after three of its shingle springs students came down with confirmed cases of viral meningitis.

Bella Stauble is a Ponderosa H.S. freshman. She said, “I think people like joke about it… kinda ‘ohhh like don’t drink my stuff.’ But nobody thinks it’s a big deal.”

It’s definitely not a joke and it is a deal, albeit not the biggest. At its worst, viral meningitis could send one of Bella’s fellow students to the hospital with vomiting and severe dehydration. But most who get it just suffer an intense headache and stiff neck.

Bacterial meningitis is the potentially deadly form of the illness. Still, the three cases have raised concern for county public health experts.

Heather Orchard is a supervising public health nurse with the El Dorado County Public Health Dept. “We do get reports of viral meningitis on an annual basis,” Orchard said. “It is unusual to have so many all at one time, so it’s not something that we have directly worked with before.”

The Communicable Disease Team for El Dorado County and school administration have not yet revealed if the cluster is tied to a particular grade level at the school or sports team. But Bella Stauble’s parents don’t have any concerns about her coming to campus. Her father, Steve Stauble, was asked if he thought it was a big deal. “No,” he replied. “I was just happy they notified us, and that’s it.”

Heather Orchard said, “It’s transmitted through sharing water bottles, drinking utensils, cigarettes, kissing, close contact with individuals.”

And though a high school could be a close-contact catastrophe, Bella’s dad’s taking the situation in stride. “You still have to go to school,” he said. “People get sick.”

A spokesperson for the district says officials will continue to “monitor the situation.”

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