Petaluma teen contracts contagious blood infection

February 20, 2013 12:26:15 PM PST
Petaluma High School is warning its entire student body after a student got sick from a highly contagious bacteria that can cause meningitis.

After hearing that 17-year-old Christopher Pozzi-Swain was diagnosed with a severe case of meningococcal disease, parents like Claudia Viadro have had some honest discussions with their kids in the last couple of days.

"(My son) doesn't do drugs, as far as I know, but I asked if he shared a cigarette, a joint, a beer, or anything that you wouldn't want to tell me, but you need to tell me now. (He said) 'no mom,'" said Viadro.

But her son couldn't remember if he had taken a sip out of the same soda can as his sick friend, so his doctor decided to treat him.

"So they called in a prescription for 500 milligrams of amoxicillin and he took it and he is fine," said Viadro.

Health care workers said a few dozen people have taken the preventative medicine, but so far everyone else seems to be fine.

"So we had one 17-year-old young man who developed a severe meningococcal infection, it's a blood infection that is quite serious. There is no outbreak in the high school," said Sonoma County Health Officer Lynn Silver Chalfin M.D.

The principal at Petaluma High School said he sent out a robo-call to inform parents who he said are generally acting with calm and also a lot of questions.

"There are a couple of parents who are suggesting we should all wear facemasks. I understand that and it is a logical reaction because what is the risk/reward? We never want to take a risk with our children," said Petaluma High School Principal David Stirrat.

Health officials say facemasks are not necessary.

"Because the disease is really spread by very close contact; like me coughing right on you, or sharing a cup or kissing somebody. It is not spread across the room." said Silver Chalfin.

The good news is that Pozzi-Swain is doing better.

"He is awake this morning, he is breathing on his own, able to recognize people and alert," said Silver Chalfin.

There is no sign that anyone at Petaluma High School has meningococcal disease.

Students have created a giant get well card that they are all signing and will be giving to Pozzi-Swain.


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