UPDATE: Wilton Schools Extend Meningitis Alert Beyond WHS to All Parents

Wilton High School

UPDATE, Friday, Sept. 19, 4:00 p.m.:  Wilton Public Schools sent an email letter from superintendent Dr. Kevin Smith, alerting all parents in the district that there were confirmed cases of viral meningitis at Wilton High School. The letter said that there were two confirmed cases and a suspected–but unconfirmed–third case at the school.

Until today, administrators had only officially notified parents of high school students.

In an afternoon phone call with GOOD Morning Wilton WHS principal Robert O’Donnell said that “we are obviously monitoring the situation. Our nurses are communicating with each other between the schools, we’ve been in touch with the medical professionals we consult with, and we’re following and adhering to their recommendations for best practice.”

The principal also said that the buildings are cleaned on a regular basis, but that administrators have asked custodians to “take extra measures–wiping off surfaces, doorknobs, rails, countertops, water fountains, with disinfectant, just as an extra precautionary measure. They clean these things regularly but just on a daily basis to make sure they are disinfected as a preventative measure.”

He also explained that, contrary to rumor, there is no “threshold” number of confirmed cases that will close the school. Social media and emails to GMW.com saw an uptick in the thought that if more than five students (or eight, depending on the rumor) contracted meningitis, the school would close.

“There’s no expected policy or threshold. The important thing is that we are certainly monitoring it. You make important decisions based on the accurate information you have. Right now the accurate information we have is that the two cases appear to be isolated,” O’Donnell said.

The communications the district have sent home have detailed symptoms and suggested steps to lower the chances of getting infected.

ORIGINAL STORY, Thursday, Sept. 18, 10:53 p.m.:  A second case of viral meningitis has been confirmed at Wilton High School by principal Robert O’Donnell.

“There is a second confirmed case.  We have been in touch with our health professionals who have confirmed that we are taking the appropriate precautions.  We sent a letter home to parents on each case,” O’Donnell wrote to GOOD Morning Wilton in an email on Thursday afternoon.

The letters O’Donnell referred to were emailed notices from the high school health office and signed by the nurses. They describe viral meningitis as “an infection caused by a virus. It can cause an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord…People usually recover fully.”

The letter also lists symptoms of “fever, headache, stuff neck, red rash, drowsiness or nausea and vomiting,” and instructs anyone whose child shows symptoms to contact a health care provider “immediately.”

While serious, viral meningitis is less dangerous than bacterial meningitis, which is considered more life threatening, according to the Center for Disease Control.

The first letter went home to parents on Sept. 9 after the first case was diagnosed; the second letter was sent home on Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Television news crews were spotted outside the high school on Thursday covering the story, interviewing students, and news reports aired Thursday evening. In addition, it was a topic parents were discussing online on Facebook elsewhere. Among the questions, parents have asked if the district will notify parents at Middlebrook, given that high school students ride the school buses with the middle school students.

GMW.com will update the story as we learn more on Friday.