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Officials: Meningococcal diagnosis at Great Neck North High School

An employee at Great Neck North High School

An employee at Great Neck North High School has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease, officials said. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

An employee of Great Neck North High School has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease and the school district has alerted members of the school community, officials said.

Nassau County Department of Health spokeswoman Mary Ellen Laurain said the agency is investigating the situation and officials have interviewed the patient. She did not know the patient’s condition or how many others were exposed.

Board of Education president Barbara Berkowitz confirmed an email the superintendent sent to the school community but would not identify the patient or the patient’s role at the school.

Meningococcal disease, which includes bacterial meningitis, is a severe — and potentially lethal — bloodstream infection.

Laurain said the employee is not believed to be diagnosed with meningitis.

Anyone who had contact with the individual had already been notified, according to Sunday’s email from Superintendent Teresa Prendergast.

In the email, Prendergast assured community members “there is no need to panic” and noted that the Nassau County Department of Health requires notification to the school community.

Others who have had contact with the patient — including kissing, sharing food, drinks, beverage containers or eating utensils, exchanging nasal or oral secretions, or any similar exposure like close face-to-face contact for a prolonged period of time — between May 14 and 16 or May 23 and 25, may be at risk.

“Casual contact, as might occur in a regular classroom or office setting, is NOT usually significant enough to cause concern,” the email said.

Individuals should seek treatment within 14 days of exposure, the email said, and symptoms can include high fever, headache, vomiting, stiff neck and rash. Symptoms usually appear within five days of exposure but can manifest between two and 10 days.

CORRECTION: An initial version of this story mischaracterized the school employee’s diagnosis based on information provided by school officials.

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