BY MICHAEL WALTON
TRAVERSE CITY — Health officials diagnosed a Benzie Central High School student with Neisseria meningitidis, a form of bacterial meningitis.
Lab tests confirmed the diagnosis Monday, said Michelle Klein, Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department's communicable disease coordinator.
The student, 17, was sent to DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids. Klein would not comment on his condition.
Neisseria meningitidis spreads through close contact with the respiratory droplets of infected individuals and can occur through shared utensils or water bottles, or through close proximity to a sneeze or a cough.
"It's not spread through sharing everyday airspace," Benzie-Leelanau District Health Officer Jenifer Murray said.
Bacterial meningitis causes inflammation in the membrane around the brain and the spinal cord. Symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and stiffness in the neck.
Individuals exposed to Neisseria meningitidis often develop no illness or symptoms, but infection can lead to hearing loss, brain damage or death, in rare cases.
Most people afflicted by the sickness fully recover with the aid of routine antibiotics, Murray said.
Murray said her department is coordinating the Benzie school district's response to the student's diagnosis. A letter sent to parents recommended anyone experiencing meningitis symptoms contact their health care provider.
The student also attends auto body repair classes at the Career-Tech Center in Traverse City. Custodians disinfected the autoshop, Traverse City Area Intermediate School District authorities said.