HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The Henrico Health Department is monitoring a camper taken to the hospital this week with a case of viral meningitis. The camper attended Camp Hilbert in Goochland County. The child has been released from the hospital and returned home, according to camp officials. The camp was closed Friday as a precaution, but will reopen Monday, according to camp operators at the Weinstein JCC.
The Henrico Health Department is not recommending campers seek any treatment at this point.
The Henrico Health Department offered the following information to parents, camp staff and the community.
Meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. The inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis may develop in response to a number of causes, usually bacteria or viruses, but meningitis can also be caused by physical injury, cancer or certain drugs.
The severity of illness and the treatment for meningitis differ depending on the cause. Thus, it is important to know the specific cause of meningitis. At this time, the specific cause of possible meningitis in the child attending Camp Hilbert is not determined.
Viral meningitis is the most common type of meningitis. It is often less severe than bacterial meningitis, and most people usually get better on their own (without treatment). However, infants younger than 1 month old and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe illness. In most cases, there is no specific treatment for viral meningitis. Most people who get viral meningitis completely recover on their own within 7 to 10 days. Antibiotics do not help viral infections, so they are not useful in the treatment of viral meningitis. However, antibiotics are very important when treating bacterial meningitis.
Initial symptoms of viral meningitis include:
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to light
- General feeling of not being well.
Both the Henrico Health Department and camp leaders advised parents whose children exhibited the symptoms to see their pediatrician.
"The most effective method of preventing infection is to wash your hands thoroughly and often," the Henrico Health Department advised. "Besides frequent washing of hands, children should be advised not to share drinks and food with friends."