News: Summer cold, cough, fever could be signs of meningitis

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Published in the August 18 2010 issue of The Edmonton Sun. News


Summer cold, cough, fever could be signs of meningitis

It’s a summer cold that could lead to meningitis.

Alberta Heath Services is reminding Albertans to keep clean as an outbreak of viral meningitis has spread across the province.

Symptoms start out much like a summer cold with dry coughs or fevers but since April, 90 of those colds turned into reported cases of viral meningitis in Alberta, with half of those cases originating in Edmonton, says Dr. Gerry Predy, senior medical officer with Alberta Health Services.

“Over the past few months we’ve been seeing quite a bit of viral meningitis,” Predy told reporters Tuesday.

MORE THAN USUAL

“It is more than what we usually see. With kids going back to school we thought we should issue this advisory.”

The cases reported comprise people between the ages of 10 and 30, and also those who do recreational activities in large groups.

“A lot of the cases have been related to sports tournaments, recreational activities,” he said.

“If you are sick or your children are sick, don’t send them to sports camp, don’t send them to school, keep them at home until they are better.”

Albertans are encouraged to avoid sharing water bottles or soft drinks, to wash hands thoroughly, and to clean surfaces of gym equipment and common household surfaces.

The majority of viral meningitis cases don’t cause death.

The cases have been known to spring up in the region every couple of years during the summer.

BACTERIAL

Predy reminds Albertans this incident is not as serious as the string of bacterial meningitis cases in 2000, where some cases led to death.

Of the 90 recent viral meningitis cases in Alberta, no one has died from the disease.

But those who do get meningitis should get checked to “rule out other, more serious forms of meningitis,” Predy said.

Viral meningitis can cause fever, dry cough, headaches, body aches, weakness, tiredness and rash and usually lasts from seven to 10 days.

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