COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

P.O. BOX 2120

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120

SUPTS. MEMO NO. 47

August 12, 2005

Administrative

TO:

Division Superintendents

 

FROM:

Jo Lynne DeMary

Superintendent of Public Instruction

 

SUBJECT:

Dissemination of Information Regarding Meningococcal Meningitis

 

Meningococcal disease is a rare, but potentially fatal, bacterial infection that can cause meningitis, a severe swelling of the brain and spinal cord or meningococcemia, a severe blood infection. Meningococcal disease is spread through air droplets and by direct contact with an infected person. Early symptoms may resemble the flu, making diagnosis difficult. The disease can progress very quickly, killing an otherwise healthy young person in 48 hours or less. More than 50 percent of meningococcal disease in the U. S. occurs in persons 11 years of age or older.

 

Ten to 14 percent of cases are fatal; however, among adolescents it can be as high as 22 percent. One in five of those who survive the disease will suffer a permanent disability that could include brain damage, limb amputations, or hearing loss. However, up to 83 percent of meningococcal infections among the ages of 15 and 24 are potentially vaccine-preventable.

 

In February 2005, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Preventions Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued new recommendations stating that children at pre-adolescence (11- to 12-year olds), adolescents entering high schools, and college freshmen living in dormitories should be immunized against meningococcal disease. In addition, ACIPs recommendations state that all other adolescents who wish to decrease their risk of meningococcal disease may elect to receive the vaccine.

 

 

School divisions are an important source of health information for parents and students. CDC has developed fact sheets on meningococcal disease and the vaccine, as well as a sample letter to parents, all of which are attached to this Superintendents Memorandum. The Department of Education and the Department of Health highly recommend that this information be provided to all parents with the first day of school packets. For more information about meningococcal disease and immunization, visit the following websites:

 

www.cdc.gov/nip/vaccine/mening/mcv4/mcv4_acip.htm

www.meningococcaldisease.com

www.nmaus.org

www.sanofipasteur.us

www.nfid.org/ncai

 

Should you have questions, please contact Gwen P. Smith, school health specialist, in the Department of Education at 804-786-8671 or email at gwen.smith@doe.virginia.gov, or James Farrell, director of immunization at 804-864-8055 or email at james.farrell@vdh.virginia.gov.

 

JLD/gps

 

Attachments

 

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/administrators/superintendents_memos/2005/adm047a.pdf

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/administrators/superintendents_memos/2005/adm047b.pdf

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/administrators/superintendents_memos/2005/adm047c.pdf