Prince George's County school and health officials said yesterday they had found no new confirmed cases over the weekend of a highly contagious strain of meningitis that caused the death Thursday of an 11-year-old elementary school pupil in Suitland.
"It's been very quiet," Dr. Ellin Gursky, director of epidemiology for the Prince George's County Health Department, said in urging parents to send children to school. "I think we're in good shape from where we stand now."
A sixth grader at Edgar Allan Poe Elementary School died Thursday of meningococcal meningitis, a form of the bacterial disease that results in an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. It can be transmitted by contact such as coughing, sneezing or sharing a drink.
The pupil, whose name has not been released, had attended classes on Wednesday but became ill when she returned home that afternoon, a school spokeswoman said.
Gursky and school Principal William Hussong yesterday urged parents to send their children back to school today, saying there is no medical reason to fear an outbreak of the disease.
Hussong said the school was "perfectly safe" for children who are not exhibiting the flu-like symptoms of the disease.
After the student's death Thursday, county health officials made telephone calls to 130 parents of pupils who had come into contact with the victim on Wednesday or earlier in the week. Also, all of nearly 300 students at the school were sent home Friday with fact sheets about meningitis, which can be treated by a drug, Rifampin.
Gursky said yesterday that county health officials had reached all but three or four families of "at risk" pupils, whom they hoped to contact by today.
Gursky said there were three cases of concern where students had exhibited one or more symptoms of meningitis -- sudden fever, stiff neck, nausea, headache and a reddish rash on the buttocks.
Those cases had been referred to family physicians for closer monitoring, she said. Also, a 15-year-old sibling and the parents of the victim were treated last week for the disease, Gursky said, but they were not diagnosed as having meningitis.
Gursky said she doubted whether medical authorities would determine how the 11-year-old pupil contracted the disease.
County health officials will closely monitor pupils at the Suitland school for about 10 days, which is one full incubation period for the disease, Gursky said.
The last meningitis-related death reported in Prince George's County was two years ago.