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Meningitis case reported at John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore

A student at John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore has been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, the school principal wrote in a letter to parents Tuesday.

Anyone who had close contact with the student within the 10 days before May 3 should contact a doctor immediately, Principal Lorraine Poppe wrote. She did not identify the student.

The disease is spread by respiratory and oral secretions, so anyone who shared food, drink or utensils with or kissed the student could have been exposed. Casual contact “is not usually significant enough to cause concern,” she wrote.

The disease infects the bloodstream and the meninges, the thin lining covering the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms can include high fever, vomiting, stiff neck and rash. Symptoms usually appear within five days of exposure, but can appear anytime between two and 10 days.

If caught early, it can be treated with antibiotics; if it is caught late, it can lead to brain damage, amputations and even death, according to the state Department of Health.

Parents with questions can call the school’s health office at 516-992-1460.

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