An 8-year-old in Montgomery County has been hospitalized after being diagnosed with a meningococcal infection, the bacteria that can lead to meningitis, school officials tell NBC10.com.
The child is a 3rd grade student at Skippack Elementary School in Collegeville, Pa. School officials say they were notified of the infection diagnosis on Tuesday and notified parents via email.
The Montgomery County Health Department says the child is in stable condition at a local hospital.
The infection is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. Left untreated, the infection can morph into bacterial meningitis, a dangerous disease which causes inflammation in the lining of the brain, health officials say. In the worst and most rare cases, meningococcemia, an infection in the blood stream can form.
A letter to parents obtained by NBC10.com says that the Montgomery County Health Department and school staff have been working to identify anyone who has had close contact -- such as sharing food or drinks -- with the student.
"It's a really scary thought," said Tina Kelly. "I have kids in the district."
Anyone who has had close contact may be given antibiotics, officials said. Officials also advised parents to watch their children for sudden fever or nausea.
Perkiomen Valley School District spokeswoman Jessica Lester says the school is in the process of being disinfected. Additional staff is being brought in to clean surfaces as a precaution, she said.
Skippack Elementary has 127 students in the third grade and 775 students total.
Some of the symptoms of meningitis include nausea, vomiting and light sensitivity as well as confusion and a stiff neck. The bacteria that causes meningitis is spread through close contact with an infected person and being exposed to their nose and throat secretions. This can be done through kissing or sharing toothbrushes, cigarettes, and utensils with an infected person.