Letter to the Editor

Curtailing a classroom epidemic

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Dear Editor,

Looking back at 1981, it truly was a trying time for our family.

One spring day, my youngest son, Dan, woke up with a splitting headache. He usually was an active 111⁄2-year old.

I contacted North Ward School where I taught the fourth grade and asked them to arrange for a substitute teacher. Then I drove him to the McCook Clinic. He was running a temperature and was nauseated when I turned several corners en route to the clinic.

While we waited to see Dr. John Batty, Dan passed out. Dr. Batty and a nurse took him to an examining room. The told me to take him to McCook Community Hospital immediately.

The hospital staff met us wearing yellow hazmat suits. They looked like people from outer space.

A needle was inserted between the vertebrae in Danís lower back to draw out fluid from the canal containing his spinal cord. They found an excessive amount of white corpuscles.

He had spinal meningitis caused by a virus that invaded his body. Epidemics do occur due to meningitis.

Recruits living in close quarters in army barracks have developed meningitis.

Generally, the virus enters the body through the nose and throat. If an infection develops in the nose and throat, the virus travels to the brain and is called primary meningitis.

The virus and bacteria causing meningitis spread along the outer covering of the brain and spinal cord.

They are identified by making a culture of the patientís blood.

When infants develop meningitis, it is often fatal Dan was hospitalized almost two weeks. It took him almost six months to recover and he had a lingering case of deafness in one ear, which gradually improved.

A number of years later, I met Dr. Batty at a court of honor for Boy Scouts. He told me that a girl from Danís class was hospitalized two days before Dan. He was afraid that he might be dealing with an epidemic of meningitis.

As a teacher, I quickly learned that school rooms can be a breeding ground for germs. In Danís case, that girl could have given the virus causing her meningitis to many other classmates besides Dan.

Helen Ruth Arnold,

Trenton, Neb.

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