School sends viral meningitis notice

RIVERBANK -- School officials sent parents a letter Friday informing them that two students had been hospitalized with viral meningitis, the mildest and most common form of the disease.

One of the two brothers who became ill was discharged from the hospital Friday, according to county health officials.

Dr. John Walker, county health officer, said there are about 78 cases of viral meningitis each year. There have been no reported deaths in the past seven years.

The viruses that cause the disease most often are spread through hand contact, coughing and sneezing. Symptoms may include fever, headache, stiff neck and fatigue. Rash, sore throat and intestinal symptoms may also occur.

Riverbank Unified School District Superintendent Joseph Galindo said he sent letters home informing parents of the two cases and giving information about the causes, symptoms and prevention of viral meningitis. He also asked the district's food services department to put up extra signs urging children not to share utensils or drinks and to wash their hands regularly.

"I believe the best thing to do in our community is let everybody know," Galindo said. "If you don't understand the medical part of it, it can scare you."