Cuyahoga County Board of Health weighs in on bacterial meningitis fear

PARMA, Ohio - A third case of bacterial meningitis in a matter of weeks in Northeast Ohio has many parents concerned about the safety of their children. However, experts at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health say there is no need to fear a widespread outbreak.

In December, two people, including a high school student, died as a result of unrelated cases of bacterial meningitis in Tuscarawas County. Sunday, a school spokesman for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District confirmed a staff member at a Heights Middle School was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

"The type of meningitis that causes that public health response and makes us need to identify high risk contacts, we refer to that as mennogicial disease," said Chris Kippes, the Director of Epidemiology for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health via a phone interview from his Parma office. "...The type of bacterial infection that the teacher has is not the one that sounds the public health alarm."

Monday, a robocall message was sent to middle school families about the latest case, stating in part, "the staff member contracted the infection outside of school while on holiday break."

In the meantime, the school is being cleaned and disinfected. Students return to school on January 8.

According to the CDC the best way to protect against certain types of bacterial meningitis is to get vaccinated. However, vaccines are not always 100 percent effective. Experts add vaccines also do not protect against all types or strains of each bacteria.