Meeting slated for Mahantongo Elementary concerning rabies case
Published: December 20, 2012
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KLINGERSTOWN - The Tri-Valley School District was scheduled to hold a special public meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18 to address concerns about children at the Mahantongo Elementary School possibly being exposed to rabies.
The meeting was slated for 5:30 p.m. at the Mahantongo Elementary School in Klingerstown, just prior to the school's annual holiday program. (Details of that meeting were unavailable prior to print production.)
According to Superintendent Mark D. Snyder, sometime between Tuesday, Dec. 4 and Wednesday, Dec. 5, there was a gray, striped farm cat from an adjacent property that had been on school property in the area of the playground and several students had come in contact with the cat.
The cat died Saturday, Dec. 8, and was taken to Sunbury Animal Hospital and later transported to Harrisburg, Snyder said, to determine if the cat had rabies. The Department of Health, as well as the property owner, notified the school district on Wednesday, Dec. 12 that the cat tested positive for rabies, he said.
School nurses Judy Weinreich and Paula Morgan put together an informational sheet that was sent home to Mahantongo Elementary parents, advising parents to contact their family physician, Snyder said.
The letter stated: "The cat was present on school grounds during the recess times for grades 3,4,5,and 6. This cat was not present at the recess for grades K, 1, and 2. However, it again approached students who were leaving school after
Good News Club on Tuesday afternoon, so children in all grades who attend Good News Club may have been exposed to this animal."
"Please discuss this issue with your child to determine whether your child may have touched, petted, or held this cat, or if the child was scratched or bitten. If your child had any contact with this animal, please contact your physician or the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pottsville Office (621-3112) for advice immediately. They will advise you about the proper treatment for this extremely serious disease. Please be aware that Rabies is a very serious disease. Immediate medical care is urgent if there is contact with the animal's body fluids, especially the animal's saliva, through a bite, scratch, or saliva exposure to an open wound or broken skin. There is a vaccine available to protect your child, but it must be given as soon as possible. If your child did not touch the cat, the child was not exposed to the virus and you do not need to be concerned."
Parents were asked to report to the school nurses any exposure that their child may have had to this animal. The district nurses will provide more information and advise parents on how to get treatment for this potential health concern.
The district also used its "Blackboard Connect" system to send phone and e-mail messages out on December 12, alerting parents to the situation.
Three representatives from the state Department of Health were scheduled to attend Tuesday's meeting, to answer parents' questions and concerns, Snyder said.
When asked how many children may have been exposed, Snyder said, "I believe there were several that had contact with the cat," although he did not report a specific number.
Elementary Principal Gerald Anderson referred all questions from the media to the district office.
For more information about the rabies virus, the district lists the websites for the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov), the Pennsylvania Department of Health (www.health.state.pa.us) and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (www.agriculture.state.pa.us).