City Increases Efforts to Curb Meningitis

  • Printer Friendly Printer Friendly
  • Comments Comments (0)

Four days since Berkeley authorities announced a second case of suspected meningitis, health officials have bolstered efforts to identify and treat residents in South and West Berkeley who could be carriers of the disease and educate the surrounding communities.

Meanwhile, hospital officials said yesterday that the 19-year-old woman hospitalized Thursday with meningitis symptoms has been listed in good condition and is expected to make a full recovery.

"She is responding very well to the treatment," said Carolyn Kemp, a spokesperson for Alta Bates Medical Center.

Kemp added that an official diagnosis of the victim's illness may not reveal that she contracted bacterial meningitis since she received immediate medical attention, preventing progression of the disease.

But city officials said the victim's recovery will not curtail the city's outreach efforts to treat and educate the most at-risk populations in Berkeley.

An investigation launched immediately after the victim was hospitalized revealed that the West Berkeley resident associates with a social group known to use drugs and have unprotected sex, health officials said.

Although Berkeley's public health officer Poki Namkung could not confirm whether the 19-year-old may have caught the disease through these means, she said the exchange of bodily fluids is enough to transmit the bacterium that causes the disease.

Namkung said the city is taking a "more aggressive" approach in this second case because it involves adolescents who are more likely than children to participate in high-risk behavior.

"We must be very aggressive," Namkung said. "We are acting in a proactive manner because we feel it's imperative that we break the chain of transmission."

Health officials spent the weekend at three clinic sites screening nearly 250 people and administering antibiotics to 210 of them.

They also plastered South and West Berkeley with fliers and went door to door to identify residents who may have been exposed to meningitis.

Namkung called these actions "active surveillance, aggressive street action and community education," which she said are necessary steps to prevent a meningitis outbreak.

Joined by other health officials, Namkung took this message to community meetings at Berkeley High School and Franklin Elementary School yesterday, where she welcomed questions from parents and students about the disease and fielded measures to curb its spread.

"We are working with the school district to host a meeting to inform the youth of all the facts so that they are not working with misinformation," said Stephanie Lopez, a spokesperson for the city manager's office. "We are making the school clinic available, and we want to get the word out there about high-risk behavior that can really put people at risk."

After the 19-year-old woman is released from the hospital, health officials will interview her to identify and treat every person who came into direct contact with her, said Lopez.

City and health officials suspect whoever transmitted the bacterium to the hospitalized victim could be passing it along to others.

Namkung ruled out the possibility that the woman contracted the disease directly from the 9-year-old who died from meningitis May 1, although the two families have social ties and lived in the same neighborhood.

She said the 14-day incubation period for direct transmission to occur has elapsed.

In the meantime, health officials said they will continue to reach out to residents of the area enclosed by Sixth Street, San Pablo Avenue, and Dwight and Allston ways, where the two most recent cases involving meningitis occurred.


Comments (0) »

Comment Policy
The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regards to both the readers and writers of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. Click here to read the full comment policy.
White space
Left Arrow
Image Student regent resigns after sex crime allegations
Jesse Cheng officially announced his resignation from his positio...Read More»
Image Pet shop may occupy planned Goodwill
After failed negotiations with the landlord and resistance from the busines...Read More»
Image Campus graduate takes new first steps
UC Berkeley's graduation day this year was symbolic for graduate Austin Whi...Read More»
Image Regents rescind part of approval
The ongoing legal battle surrounding revisions to the building plans for th...Read More»
Image UC spared additional cuts in budget revision
While the University of California escaped further funding reductions M...Read More»
Image UC Board of Regents wary of unreliable state funds
SAN FRANCISCO - Following the release of Gov. Jerry Brown's revis...Read More»
Right Arrow

Job Postings

White Space