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About 300 people from camp asked to take meningitis antibiotic

    SAVANNAH — About 270 children and 30 adults have been asked to take an antibiotic that helps prevent bacterial meningitis after attending a summer day camp with a child likely suffering from the infection.
    Health officials say the unidentified child was enrolled in the day camp at the YMCA in Pooler. While there is no indication that the child got infected at the camp or that it was passed on to others, the YMCA has been distributing for free a two-day dose of rifampin, an antibiotic considered effective against meningitis, to people who attended the camp from July 30 to Aug. 3.
    ‘‘Right now, we don’t have any signs of meningitis from anyone else,’’ said Dr. Diane Weems, chief medical officer for the Chatham County Health Department.
    She said about half of the summer camp participants received the medication at the Pooler YMCA and the agency is contacting all other parents by telephone.
    ‘‘If (parents) see symptoms, they should go to a pediatrician right away,’’ Weems added.
    Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. If untreated, it can result in brain damage, hearing loss, learning disability and even death in severe cases.
    While the infection is not highly contagious and is not spread by casual contact, it does spread through respiratory and throat secretions among people who had close or prolonged contact with someone who had meningitis.
    Weems said the infected child is being treated at an area hospital and his infection was caught early, making it less likely that other camp children were exposed.
    She said so far parents are reacting calmly. One of them is Michelle Stevens, whose daughters, 9 and 7, attended the camp and got the antibiotics.
    ‘‘I was nervous when I first heard about it, but I feel a little better now,’’ she said. ‘‘I’m just going to watch them now. We know it’s serious.’’
    Information from: Savannah Morning News,

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