Meningitis scare over for eight Marines

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Eight Marine recruits who were hospitalized in
isolation at Naval Medical Center San Diego overnight for treatment of
meningitis were released early Friday after medical tests for the disease came
back negative, a center spokeswoman said.

The recruits, whose names and hometowns were not released, were admitted
to the center's emergency room around 9 p.m. Thursday and released back to
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego this morning, said Sonja Hanson, a public
affairs officer for the medical center.

According to Hanson, the recruits all presented similar symptoms,
including some common with an upper respiratory infection. Five appeared to
have more severe cases and were given medication to prevent illness, she said.

While the Marines were in isolation rooms within the center, tests were
run to determine whether they had bacterial or viral meningitis.

Meningitis attacks the protective membranes that cover the brain and
spinal cord. Viral meningitis is generally less severe, while the bacterial
form of the illness can result in brain damage, hearing loss or learning
disabilities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The tests conducted overnight turned out negative for both forms of the
disease, Hanson said.

A 2012 CDC report said that from 2006 to 2010, there were 26 confirmed
cases of meningitis among U.S. military members and five of those cases were

Incidences among 17- to 19-year-old basic trainees and among U.S.
Marines were significantly higher than among older trainees and those in other
branches of the military, according to the report.

Last month, two people in San Diego County not affiliated with the local
recruit depot died from meningitis — Patrick Henry High School freshman
Jewelean Pimentel and 52-year-old Santee resident Jackie Lerma Billings.

Pimentel had the bacterial form of the disease and died at Rady
Children's Hospital two days after she came home from school complaining about
a headache, her family said.

According to county heath officials, Billings died from a different,
milder strain of meningitis than the one that took Pimentel's life. Billings
family said she went to the hospital to treat what she thought was the flu and
fell into a coma two days later.

Categories: KUSI