An unnamed Sackville High School student in Lower Sackville suspected of having meningococcal meningitis has been confirmed to have the serious bacterial infection, according to a letter from Capital Health Public Health Services Thursday.

The letter from Robin Taylor, MD, PhD, FRCPC, Medical Officer of Health says the health officials are taking the matter very seriously.

We continue in the process of identifying people who may have been exposed and contacting them directly. This disease does not spread through the air or through casual exposure, so risk to students attending Sackville High School of contracting the disease is low.

At this time, Public Health Services is not recommending that students at Sackville High School receive any medication or vaccine. We will be contacting anyone who may have been in direct contact with the infected student.

Meningitis symptoms/Public domain image/Mikael Häggström
Meningitis symptoms/Public domain image/Mikael Häggström

Meningococcal meningitis is caused by the bacterium, Neisseria meningitidis, which causes the most severe form of bacterial meningitis. Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can also be found in the bloodstream. This particular type of meningitis is very severe and can result in death if not treated promptly. Even in cases where treatment has been given, the fatality rate is around 15%.

The symptoms of bacterial meningitis are sudden, with fever, stiff neck, body aches and headaches. As the disease progresses other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, photophobia and seizures. A petechial rash seen on the trunk and lower extremities, bleeding complications, multi-organ failures and shock are usually final signs. This disease has the ability to kill within hours of getting it.

Up to 10-20% of older children and young adults carry this organism in the mouth and nose, though the carriage rate will vary with age and closeness of population. The majority of people that carry this bacterium have no clinical disease. The organism is spread person to person through respiratory secretions from the nose and mouth (coughing, sneezing and kissing). Experts are unsure why some people advance to meningitis disease while many do not.

Crowded living conditions facilitate the spread of the organism and places like military barracks and college dormitories are well documented areas of concern with this disease. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page.

Dr Taylor writes, If you or your family doctor requires further information, or if you are concerned that your child may have been directly exposed, please contact Public Health at 902-481-5800. 

Related: Meningococcal Group B Vaccine, Trumenba, now available in the US