Three elementary schools and a junior/senior high school in southern Wyoming were not in session Thursday following a recent case of bacterial meningitis.

The closure impacts the elementary schools in Hanna, Elk Mountain and Medicine Bow, as well as the Hanna-Elk Mountain-Medicine Bow Junior/Senior High School in Hanna. Carbon County School District No. 2 says the schools are closed so that the buildings can be cleaned.

Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It can be life-threatening. It is preventable by a vaccine, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have specific guidelines for people who should or should not receive it.

District Superintendent Jim Copeland told K2 Radio News on Thursday that the infection was confirmed in a fourth-grade student at Hanna Elementary School, and parents with students at the affected schools were notified Wednesday in an email after the diagnosis was confirmed.

"We did also report it to state health officials," Copeland said in a phone interview. He said the child was taken by life flight for medical treatment, though he did not know the destination.

Copeland added that district nursing staff indicated bacterial meningitis is more likely to respond to antibiotics, and they are hopeful the student will recover.

The student's family, Copeland said, thought their child had come down with influenza. The student reportedly exhibited flu-like symptoms and the illness had been going around locally.

That student had older siblings at the Junior/Senior High School, so district officials made the decision to close that school for cleaning as well. The other schools are linked by busing.

"We do not meet tomorrow anyway, so that will give us the weekend to get everything disinfected," Copeland said.

This story had been corrected to reflect that the email notification from the district was issued to parents with children at the four affected schools, not parents throughout the district. 

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