A staff member at West Babylon High School has been diagnosed with viral meningitis, a spokeswoman for the superintendent's office said Monday.

In a letter to parents, the district said there was a "limited risk" of the illness being passed on and that hand-washing and good hygiene would help stem its spread. But it urged parents to be on the look out for symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, sleepiness and nausea.

The district learned of the infected staff member Sunday and then posted the letter dated Monday morning on its website, wbschools.org, along with health information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the spokeswoman said. Parents were contacted through its telephone-connect message system.

According to the CDC, "meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord." It is spread usually through fecal contamination, the CDC said. Viral meningitis is generally less severe than bacterial meningitis, which can be life-threatening, and clears up without specific treatment, the CDC said.

In its statement, the district said, "The health and safety of all of our students is our top priority. The West Babylon school district is working closely with the Department of Health and will continue to monitor the situation and keep the community informed."

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Suffolk Health Department spokeswoman Grace Kelly-McGovern confirmed: "We are aware of it and have spoken with the school."

Superintendent Anthony Cacciola was not available for comment, referring questions to the district spokeswoman. Citing privacy laws, the spokeswoman said she was unable to provide more information on the staff member, including whether the person was hospitalized.

The district also said it has followed the CDC's recommended preventive measures in cleaning surfaces "in rooms occupied by the staff member and will continue to undertake routine surface cleanings throughout the school building." With Zachary R. Dowdy