Mom Disputes Pea Ridge Student Has Meningitis

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A Pea Ridge Middle School student was hospitalized with what state officials say is viral meningitis. The student's mom, Chastity Obersteadt, said her 11-year-old son was not diagnosed with that illness, but instead with encephalitis.

The state Health Department said the diagnosis hasn't changed.

Nathaniel Jesse James Jones, a 6th-grader, was flown to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock Friday, after falling ill. The Pea Ridge School District administration was notified Tuesday morning by the Arkansas Health Department.

School employees disinfected the school and buses with bleach according to health department guidelines, Supt. Rick Neal said.

"Bleaching and disinfecting areas such as the cafeteria, buses, bathrooms and different areas inside the building," Neal said.

A letter was sent to parents alerting them of the illness.

The boy’s siblings and other students do not show symptoms at this time, according to officials.

Family practitioner Dr. Tammy Tucker said viral meningitis can be contracted through bacteria by touching, sneezing and coughing.

"It's basically the meningis or the lining that cover the surface of the brain and the spinal cords," Tucker said.

Tucker said encephalitis is a deeper infection in the brain and can be transferred to humans from mosquitoes. She said the school took the correct precautions.

"Anything we can do to boost our immune system and keep areas clean and sanitary," Tucker said. "But, certainly when you get a scare like this it does raise red flags to do a little bit more."

Symptoms include a sudden fever, headache, stiff neck, and sensitivity to light. It’s typically spread through fecal contamination, saliva, or mucus.

Neal said he hopes the student recuperates quickly.

"We worry about the family and concerned for our student. We wish him the best and look forward to having him back," Neal said.

For more information on Viral Meningitis, click here.

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