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Seoul American HS student recovering from meningitis

SEOUL, South Korea — A Seoul American High School student has been diagnosed with viral meningitis but is responding well to treatment, according to U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan.

A garrison statement said the male student was diagnosed last weekend with suspected bacterial meningitis, typically more serious than viral meningitis. However, a DNA test later showed he had viral meningitis. Symptoms include sudden fever, headache and stiff neck.

The student has undergone antibiotic treatment and is recovering, the release said. Lt. Col. HengMo McCall, chief of the Army Public Health Nursing Service at U.S. Army Medical Activity Korea, said Thursday that he is doing “very well” at the garrison hospital. She could not comment on when he would be released.

An investigation showed the student had few close contacts with others, aside from his immediate family and one other student. None have shown symptoms of the disease and all have been treated with a single dose of antibiotics as a preventive measure, the garrison said. McCall said the student had been exposed to others who were ill before the beginning of the school year, and it was impossible to say how he contracted the virus that led to his illness.

DODEA Pacific spokesman Charly Hoff said the student was a member of the school’s cross country team. McCall said health and safety precautions were not needed at the high school, and students were being encouraged to practice good personal hygiene to prevent contracting viruses.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meningitis is caused by inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord and can be caused by bacteria, viruses, injury, cancer or some drugs. Viral meningitis can be serious but is rarely life-threatening in people with normal immune systems.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported only three cases of meningitis in 2014, according to the garrison.

“A patient coming down with meningitis does not necessarily have to get it from someone else,” the statement quoted Col. Sam Lee of the 65th Medical Brigade as saying. “It can be from the normal bacterial that is around our skin and body parts.”

The community will be informed of developments in the case, garrison commander Col. Maria P. Eoff said in the statement.

rowland.ashley@stripes.com
Twitter: @Rowland_Stripes

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