3 Students Diagnosed with Viral Meningitis at Ponderosa High School

SHINGLE SPRINGS -- Three Ponderosa High School students have been diagnosed with viral meningitis, the El Dorado Union High School District confirmed Monday.

District spokesperson Serena Fuson said the school is being cleaned and the district will "monitor the situation."

Ponderosa High School is now a much cleaner version of itself -- much cleaner than it was this time last week.

It's all thanks to a weekend-long, bleach-based cleaning outlined by the health department after three of its Shingle Springs students came down with confirmed cases of viral meningitis.

"I think people like joke about it, kinda 'oh, like don't drink my stuff,' but nobody thinks it's a big deal," said Ponderosa freshman Bella Stauble.

It's definitely not a joke and it is a deal -- albeit not the biggest.

At it's worst, viral meningitis could send Bella or one of her fellow students to the hospital with vomiting and severe dehydration.

But most who get it just suffer an intense headache and stiff neck.

Bacterial meningitis is the potentially deadly form of the illness -- still the three cases have raised concern for county public health experts.

"We do get reports of viral meningitis on an annual basis," said Heather Orchard, the Supervising Public Health Nurse for the El Dorado County Public Health Department. "It is unusual to have so many all at one time, so it's not something that we have directly worked with before."

The communicable disease team for the county and school administration have not yet revealed if the cluster is tied to a particular grade level or sports team, but Bella Stabule's parents don't have any concerns about her coming to campus.

"No, I was just happy they notified us and that's it," said Steve Stauble.

"It's transmitted through sharing ... water bottles, drinking utensils, um, cigarettes, kissing, close contact with individuals," said Orchard.

And though a high school could be a close-contact catastrophe, Bella's dad is taking the situation in stride.

"You still have to go to school," he shrugged. "People get sick."