A case of bacterial meningitis was reported to the Del Norte County Public Health Branch last week.

The Public Health Branch was made aware of the infection on Sept. 4 and said the patient is being treated out of the area, according to a press release from the county Department of Health and Human Services.

Close contacts of the patient have been notified and have been offered preventative treatment for exposure to the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, according to the press release.

Even though the public is not at undue risk, the bacterium may be more active than usual, the press release said. Neisseria meningitidis is always present to some degree in a community this size with different strains causing more serious illnesses than others.

Meningitis is an infection of the thin lining covering the brain and spinal cord and is caused by a number of different bacteria or viruses. Nearly all cases occur as single, isolated events, according to the press release. Symptoms of meningitis may include fever, headache, stiff neck and fatigue.

Sensitivity to light, confusion, rash and a sore throat may also occur. Symptoms typically start three to seven days after exposure to the bacteria, according to the press release.

The organism is spread by direct or indirect contact with respiratory secretions, such as coughs or sneezes, the release said.

According to the release, if you think you have the symptoms described above, contact your doctor or clinic or go to an urgent care clinic or emergency room. Early diagnosis of meningitis is important and a delay can be serious.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/meningitis/bacterial.html or call the Del Norte County Public Health branch at 707-464-0861.