A total of five viral meningitis cases have been confirmed in Hays USD 489 schools, said Mary Ann Shorman, USD 489 lead nurse.

Three of those cases are students at Hays Middle School, and two are Hays High School students.

Viral meningitis usually is caused by a non-polio enterovirus and isn’t contagious, Shorman said last week.

Someone exposed to someone with viral meningitis might get the virus the other person had that settled into viral meningitis, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the virus is going to turn into viral meningitis in the person exposed.

The cases must be confirmed as viral meningitis by a spinal tap to be counted.

“There are a lot of things that can mimic the (viral meningitis) symptoms of headache and muscle aches,” Shorman said.

Butch Schlyer, Ellis County Health administrator, said he’s talked to the epidemiologists at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

“I’m not trying to lessen the severity of meningitis because that’s a severe illness,” Schlyer said. “There are viruses that can cause meningitis, and they may or may not if one contracts them. It’s just something that’s kind of going around.”

There is a vaccine for bacterial meningitis, but not viral meningitis, he said.

Viral meningitis isn’t unusual this time of year, Shorman said.

“We’ve just not had it in Hays,” she said.

“At this point in time it has no public health implications,” Schlyer said.