A fourth-grade student has been confirmed to have a form of bacterial meningitis, but the ailment is not contagious, according to state health officials.

"There is no heightened reason for Carbon County families to be worried because of this student's illness," Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health, said in a statement Monday.

Hospital laboratory work has been completed and confirmed there is no public health concern stemming from the student's illness, department spokesperson Kim Deti said.

Meningitis is an infection of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord which can be treated with antibiotics.

"While relatively rare, meningitis must be taken seriously because it can be deadly," Harrist said. "It is important to start treatment as soon as possible."

Carbon County School District No. 2 Superintendent Jim Copeland told K2 Radio News that the student, who attends Hanna Elementary School, was flown to a Denver-area hospital on Wednesday.

In a phone interview Thursday morning, Copeland said the student had responded to treatment and his condition had improved.

The elementary schools in Hanna, Elk Mountain and Medicine Bow, as well as the high school in Hanna, were closed Thursday so the facilities could be disinfected, Copeland said.

The Hanna student was determined to have Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, the health department announced Monday, which poses no public health concern.

"We know the kind of bacteria confirmed with this student can cause many types of infections, including meningitis," Harrist said. "However, we want people to know this form of meningitis is not considered contagious."

"The particular type of bacteria involved with this student is the same that often causes ear and sinus infections, as well as sometimes pneumonia and, in rare cases, meningitis," Harris said.

The most effective way to prevent most types of bacterial meningitis, Harrist said, is vaccination.

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