A Trimble County Health Department official confirmed Thursday that a county resident has a "suspected case" of bacterial meningitis.

Kentucky Regional Epidemiologist Katie Myatt, who serves Trimble and surrounding counties in Kentucky, said state officials investigate all reports of bacterial meningitis.

The local man is suspected of having neisseria meningitidis - a specific bacteria - but the case has not been confirmed. The disease attacks the lining of the brain and the spinal cord, and can be fatal.

Confirmed cases of bacterial meningitis are extremely rare, Myatt said. Kentucky reports about 10 to 12 confirmed cases of the disease each year.

A patient with symptoms similar to that of bacterial meningitis had been treated at King's Daughters' Hospital before being transferred to an infection specialist in Louisville, hospital spokesman Dave Ommen said.

"We had a patient present with symptoms," he said, although the hospital has no confirmation that the symptoms were an actual case of bacterial meningitis.

Staff at the hospital who came in contact with the patient and family members of the patient were provided "appropriate care" for the symptoms as a precaution, Ommen said.

Myatt said people who have been infected with neisseria meningitidis can be treated through a series of antibiotics. Antibiotics also are suggested for any individuals in close contact with persons with symptoms of the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The fatality rate of neisseria meningitidis is about 9 to 12 percent, which includes those who receive the treatment, Myatt said.

Symptoms of meningitis include a sudden onset of fever, headache and stiff neck, according to the CDC.

The disease also can have symptoms including nausea, vomiting, an increased sensitivity to light and confusion.

Symptoms of meningitis can appear quickly or over several days, although symptoms develop within three to seven days after exposure.

The bacteria are spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions. While disease causes serious illness, it is not considered to be "highly communicable" and does not put the community at large at risk, Myatt said.

The exchange of throat secretions can come through kissing, sharing drinks, food., etc.

"It's not like a cold and when someone coughs you can get it," she said.