The Pondera County Health Department in cooperation with the Montana Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed to the I-O that there has been a case of bacterial meningitis in a Pondera County infant.
   “Many questions have been received from concerned parents regarding whether the illness is dangerous to people who have had personal contact with this child and whether there are preventive measures one can take,” County Health Nurse Cynthia Grubb, told the newspaper.
   Meningitis is an infection of the fluid of a person’s spinal cord and the fluid that surrounds the brain.
It is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Knowing whether a virus causes meningitis or bacterium is important because the severity of illness and the treatment differ.
   Bacterial meningitis is usually more severe and requires antibiotic treatment, Grubb noted.
   The meningitis in the county infant is caused by a bacterium that commonly causes ear infections, Streptococcus pneumaniae.
   This is the most common cause of meningitis in children under the age of five. Post-exposure or preventive antibiotics are not indicated for contacts.
   Grubb says, “It is important to note that recently there have been two causes of meningitis in teenagers in other areas of the state.    The two cases were caused by a different bacterium, Neisseria meningitis. In those cases, post-exposure antibiotics were indicated for certain high risk contacts.”
   “This in not the bacterium that caused meningitis in the Pondera County infant,” she stressed.
   Protection against bacterial meningitis has improved with Haemphilus influenza B (Hib) and Pneumococcal Conjugate (PCV) vaccine for infants and the meningococcal vaccine for adolescents- 11 years of age.
   Immunization practices have significantly reduced the incidence of bacterial meningitis since the 1990s.
   Symptoms of meningitis include high fever, headache and stiff neck.
   These symptoms can develop over several hours, or they may take one to two days..
   In newborns and small infants, the classic symptoms are fever and headache. Neck stiffness may be absent or difficult to detect, and the infant may only appear slow or inactive be irritable, have vomiting, or be feeling poorly.
   As the disease progresses, patients of any age may have seizures. Contact your healthcare provider if your child exhibits these symptoms, cautions Grubb.
   Further concerns or questions may be referred to the Pondera County Health Department at (406) 271-3247 or your local provider.
   More information may be found at .