Forty-Three Treated for Meningitis at Rainbow Gathering in the Ozarks

A case of bacterial meningitis among the several thousand Rainbow Family visitors gathered in the Ozark National Forest prompted health officials to provide preventive doses of antibiotics to 43.

The U-S Forest Service says three nurses from the Arkansas Health Department were delayed a day in providing the antibiotics when the area where they visited Tuesday also turned out to be the site of a drug bust.

But the nurses returned on Wednesday to administer ciprofloxacin, known as "cipro."

The state Health Department says a woman was diagnosed with Neisseria meningitis, an infection of the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord.

The symptoms of meningitis begin with fever, headache, body aches, weakness and malaise, and if the disease progresses to the brain, it can result in a stiff neck and confusion, and might progress into delirium or coma.

Forest Service officials estimate that about five-thousand people gathered in the Ozark National Forest this year for the annual Rainbow Family get-together. The gathering, with roots in the hippie era, draws people from around the country to a national forest site each year to pray for peace and celebrate love.