Fourth case of Meningitis possible in Valdosta - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fourth case of Meningitis possible in Valdosta

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By Robin Jedlicka - bio | email

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Neisseria Meningitis is typically a rare disease, yet it's appeared numerous times in Valdosta over a very short period.

"I've been practicing emergency medicine for thirteen years and I've only seen two cases," says Dr. Mark Plotkin, Director of the Emergency Department at South Georgia Medical Center.  "I have not seen a case of Neisseria Meningitis in probably eight years."

In just the past few months, the city of Valdosta has had three confirmed cases of the life-threatening disease.

Now, the recent death of a twenty-three-year-old suggests there could be another case.  While the patient's initial cultures did not reveal Meningitis, her symptoms were in line with those of the disease.

" Symptoms include severe headache, stiff neck, fever.  As the illness continues, you can get altered mental status, you can have nausea, vomiting," says Dr. Plotkin. 

Now, samples have been sent to the CDC for further evaluation.

Dr. Lynne Feldman, South Health District Director, says, "It's scary the way it kind of crops up and you don't know that you might be vulnerable to this disease."

While there are many forms of Meningitis, Neisseria is the only one that's contagious.

"Neisseria Meningitis is spread primarily through air droplets. The patient could be coughing, or just being in a room with a patient could spread it," says Dr. Plotkin.

But there are ways to protect yourself.  "The best protection from Meningitis--from this type of Meningitis--is with the vaccine," says Dr. Feldman. 

Since March, the South Health District has only given sixty-two vaccine shots.  With multiple confirmed cases of what's typically a rare disease, officials hope more families will choose to get vaccinated.

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