School is back in session at R.W. Combs Elementary in Perry County, but about 40 percent of students are absent because of fears surrounding two boys who fell ill last week, Principal Scott Brown said.
A diagnosis for the brothers, a kindergartner and a second-grader, hasn't been confirmed, but both boys seem to be recovering at the University of Kentucky Hospital, Brown said.
There were fears of highly contagious and deadly bacterial meningitis, but that illness has been ruled out, he said. School was closed Monday as health officials met with parents to alleviate fears, and doctors are leaning toward viral encephalitis (swelling of the brain) or viral meningitis (infection of spinal fluid).
Those illnesses are milder and less contagious than bacterial meningitis, Brown said. Health officials have supervised disinfecting the school, as a precaution, he said.
The kindergartner became ill about Wednesday of last week, having what Brown described as seizure-like symptoms at school. After testing at a doctor's office, he was sent to the hospital, and then his brother started having similar symptoms, Brown said.
On Friday, Jerry Patton, 13, a student in the Nicholas County school district, died after being hospitalized for viral meningitis. That contributed to anxiety in Perry County, Brown said.