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New Jersey teacher diagnosed with viral meningitis

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SOUTH AMBOY, N.J. (PIX11) -- An elementary school teacher in New Jersey has been diagnosed with viral meningitis, prompting a classroom to be sanitized and parents to be notified but officials maintain that the community has little cause for concern.

Superintendent of South Amboy public schools Robert Sheedy alerted parents to the case Tuesday. In a letter and call to parents, he said the teacher at South Amboy Elementary School would be absent for the rest of the week and will see her doctor before she returns to class.

The teacher’s classroom and common area were sanitized before students returned to school on Tuesday, Sheedy said.

Most patients with viral meningitis -- often less severe than the bacterial form of the illness -- recover on their own simply with rest and fever-reducing medicine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The chance that a child at the school would contract meningitis is "very small," Sheedy said.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord and is usually caused by non-Polio enteroviruses, the CDC said. Anyone can get viral meningitis regardless of age but there are groups -- like children younger than 5 and people with weakened immune systems -- who are at higher risk.

If someone comes into close contact with a person who has viral meningitis, they can become infected with the virus that led to the person developing meningitis, but they are not likely to develop meningitis themselves, the CDC said.

It was a case of bacterial meningitis that last month claimed the life of a 6-year-old student at Oliver Street School in Newark. The child first developed flu-like symptoms that became increasingly severe.

That child was not in school while potentially contagious but close contacts were located and given antibiotics as a precaution. At the time, health officials said there was no cause for the public to be alarmed.