British Columbia

Vaccines urged after meningitis-causing disease diagnosed at Okanagan high school

Two students diagnosed and health authority investigating a possible third case

CBC News

November 10, 2017

Interior Health is urging staff and students at an Okanagan high school to ensure they're vaccinated after at least two students were diagnosed with meningococcol disease. (Valentin Flauraud/Reuters)

Interior Health is urging staff and students at an Okanagan high school to ensure they're vaccinated after at least two students were diagnosed with meningococcol disease — a rare infection that can lead to meningitis.

The students go to South Okanagan Secondary School in Oliver, B.C. On Friday, the health authority said it's also investigating a possible third case.

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The disease is a bacterial infection that can affect the lining around the brain and, potentially, the blood. Meningitis is the swelling of the brain's lining and spinal cord and can be deadly.

It's rare in Canada, but a public service announcement advised students and staff at the school — and anyone else at risk — to ensure they have the latest vaccine.

South Okanagan Secondary School has just over 480 students and more than 50 staff members. (South Okanagan Secondary School/Facebook)

"Although the risk of getting this disease is low, we are advising anyone who may have been exposed to take the precaution of getting immunized," said Rakel Kling, a medical health officer with Interior Health.

The notice said anyone who isn't vaccinated would not be "appropriately" protected.

The infection spreads through sneezing, coughing or direct contact with saliva. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, drowsiness, confusion, seizures, headache and a sudden high fever.

Anyone who has these symptoms is asked to see a doctor immediately. Those looking for a vaccine are asked to go to the following immunization clinics in Oliver and not to a hospital:

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