Kindergarten student diagnosed with meningitis

LA PORTE, TX The mother of the little girl noticed she had fever late Friday or early Saturday. When the kindergarten student began saying she had severe neck pain, her mother says they took her straight to the hospital.

Cheyanne Meader is only five years old but she is in the hospital with a lethal disease -- bacterial meningitis.

Her mother, Becky Meader, told Eyewitness News, "Late Friday, early Saturday, I saw fever. She started complaining of severe neck pain. I took her to the hospital and that's when they did a spinal tap and found she had bacterial meningitis."

Meader at first didn't want her face shown, but changed her mind as she talked about her daughter's improving condition.

"It can cause death, blindness, brain damage especially with seizures accompanying it and she did have some seizures with hers," Meader said. "But she's doing great. She's all there and we just thank everybody for the help and support."

Meader says her daughter is no longer contagious and is expected to be moved to a private room Thursday. But hundreds of other parents at La Porte Elementary where Cheyanne attended kindergarten are worried.

Dr. Carolyn Fruthaler with Harris County Disease Control explained, "We want people to be aware of the symptoms of meningitis but we don't want people to be in a panic. The risk to the children in the same class is actually pretty low."

But they're asking parents of her classmates to take their children to a doctor for preventative medicine. Cheyanne's mother says her family has already taken the preventative medications. Cheyenne is expected to stay in the hospital taking antibiotics for another two weeks.

Meader said, "I wanted to let y'all know she's great, she's doing fine!"

Two different letters were sent to parents at La Porte Elementary. One was sent to families of kids who were not in direct contact with Cheyanne just making them aware of the situation. The other letter was for parents of kids in her class. That letter recommended parents take their child to the doctor to get the drug Rifampin, an antibiotic which protects against meningitis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms of meningitis may include the sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck, as well as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and altered mental status. Although the early symptoms of viral meningitis and bacterial meningitis may be similar, later symptoms of bacterial meningitis may be very severe.

According to information on the CDC website, some forms of bacterial meningitis are contagious. The bacteria can be spread from person to person through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions, which can occur through coughing, kissing, and sneezing. Fortunately, none of the bacteria that cause meningitis are as contagious as the common cold or flu. In addition, these bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.

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