Meningitis scare has kept 20,000 children in three communities at home, as all public schools in Rhode Island were closed on Thursday and Friday.
On Wednesday, a child from Coventry was diagnosed with meningitis. Meningitis is the condition in which membranes protecting the brain get inflamed, and encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain. Mycoplasma occasionally causes these neurological complications.
Health officials are trying to find out whether this case is connected to mycoplasma, or 'walking pneumonia,' and if so, whether a more dangerous strain of the mycoplasma bacterium has developed.
Mycoplasma was thought to be the cause for three cases of encephalitis in Warwick and West Warwick in the past few weeks. A second-grade student at Warwick's Greenwood Elementary School, died from the disease last month.
However, according to scientists, Mycoplasma very rarely leads to serious illness or death.
Following the cases of infection, Gov. Don Carcieri signed an order on Friday asking all schools to provide all amenities needed to prevent the spread of these critical illnesses, like alcohol-based hand washing stations. The school authorities have been instructed to post proper hand washing procedures and create awareness on the spreading of such communicative diseases among students.
Hand-sanitizing gels and dispensers will be supplied to all schools in the state. The Governor was optimistic that schools would reopen next week.
State health officials expect to have more information when the test results of the child from Coventry are received this weekend.