Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Brain & Nervous System Health Center

Font Size

Thousands Take Antibiotics Following Ohio Meningitis Outbreak

WebMD Health News

June 4, 2001 (Washington) -- Two Ohio teenagers have died after being infected with meningitis, an infection that attacks the fluid surrounding the spinal cord and the brain. A third patient, Christin Van Camp, is recovering from the disease at Akron's Children's Hospital, where she may soon be off life support.

"It can be all the way from mild disease to explosive and fulminate, fatal within hours," says Blaise Congeni, MD, director of infectious disease at the Akron facility.

Meanwhile, some 10,000 people in the surrounding area are getting drugs or vaccinations to prevent the spread of this bacterial strain called Neisseria meningitides, which causes the illness.

"Those with close contacts are being treated with antibiotics, and a decision is being made on whether or not to immunize the children in the area," Congeni tells WebMD. It's believed the two youngsters who died may have contracted the illness by sharing the same water bottle at a high school picnic last month. Tests showed they both had the same type of meningitis.

Congeni says antibiotics are effective, but people could still get the infection after ending the treatment.

It's estimated about 5% of all people have meningitis bugs in their bodies, and it's a big mystery why most of them never become ill.

Most cases of bacterial meningitis are isolated, but CDC spokesman Tom Skinner says outbreaks involving several cases, like the one in Ohio, occur three or four times a year. In case there is an outbreak in your child's school, keep an eye on your youngster to make sure he or she doesn't develop the telltale symptoms. If so, seek medical advice.

The symptoms include high fever, headache, and stiff neck. In later stages, the infection can lead to seizures. Meningitis can either be a viral or bacterial infection. Bacterial meningitis is transmitted by an exchange of secretions -- by coughing or kissing, for instance. However, long-term exposure to someone with meningitis in a household or a day care center could also put you at risk.

According to the CDC, the Neisseria meningitidis type infects about 3,000 Americans annually. The death rate is about 15%, Skinner tells WebMD. Among the survivors, 10% have severe after-effects like mental retardation.

Today on WebMD

nerve damage
Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
senior woman with lost expression
Know the early warning signs.
woman in art gallery
Tips to stay smart, sharp, and focused.
medical marijuana plant
What is it used for?
senior man
boy hits soccer ball with head
red and white swirl
marijuana plant
brain illustration stroke
nerve damage
Alzheimers Overview
Graphic of number filled head and dna double helix