Arkansas Health Officials Confirm Meningitis Death


The Arkansas Department of Health has confirmed a death due to meningococcal meningitis. Health officials believe it to be an isolated case.

Dr. James Phillips, Branch Chief of Infectious Disease with the ADH, told KFSM-TV, "The general public, doesn't have anything to fear out of the ordinary, other than the standard general hygiene. It isn't that frequent, but it's always a disaster when it occurs."

The death occurred last week and while the ADH has conducted an investigation of who may have been in contact with the victim, no information on the individual has been released.

Preventative medicine has been given to the people who were in contact with the victim.

Meningococcal meningitis is an infection that results in swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis (also known as meningococcus).

Most cases of meningococcal meningitis occur in children and adolescents. Meningococcus is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in children and the second most common cause of bacterial meningitis in adults.


Symptoms include fever, weakness, pain in the head and neck, nausea and vomiting, possible sensitivity to light, an altered mental state or convulsions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1,000–2,000 cases of meningococcal disease occur in the United States each year. Early treatment improves the outcome. The death rate ranges from 5% - 15%. Young children and adults over 50 have the highest risk of death.

Frequent hand washing with soap and water or use of alcohol-based hand rubs or gels can help stop the spread of many viruses and bacteria. Not sharing food, drinks, or eating utensils with other people can also help stop the spread of germs.

There are 5 vaccines that can help prevent meningitis:
• Haemophilus influenzae (Hib)
• Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine 7-valent (PCV7)
• Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine 23-valent (PPV23)
• Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine
• Meningococcal conjugate vaccine

Meningococcal vaccine is now recommended for children 11-12 years of age, for adolescents at high school entry (15 years of age) and freshman and other newly enrolled college students living in
dormitories and other congregate living situations (such as fraternities and sororities). Other high-risk groups include anyone with a damaged spleen or whose spleen has been removed, those traveling to countries where meningococcal disease is very common and people who may have been exposed to meningococcal disease during an outbreak. Children and adults with terminal complement component deficiency (an inherited immune disorder) should also receive the vaccine.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Meningitis Fact Sheet