ELLENSBURG, Wash. — A Kittitas County woman has been hospitalized with bacterial meningitis, the Kittitas County Public Health Department said.

The woman was hospitalized Sunday and those who were exposed to her have been prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection, the agency said.

Local health officials, meanwhile, confirmed an unidentified Yakima County woman died from bacterial meningitis the same day as the hospitalization in Kittitas County. But her illness was not of the highly contagious type that requires antibiotics for those who may have been exposed.

Marianne Patnode, communicable disease supervisor for the Yakima Health District, said her office fielded inquiries about whether those who came in contact with the Yakima County woman should receive treatment.

She said the woman did not have either of the two types of bacterial meningitis for which reporting is required.

Bacterial meningitis is usually severe and can cause serious complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities or death, Kittitas County health officials said.

The illness can be contagious and is spread through the exchange of respiratory or throat secretions.

Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache and stiff neck and can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and mental confusion, health officials said.

The best way to protect against certain types of bacterial meningitis is through getting recommended vaccinations, such as the meningococcal and Hib vaccines, officials said.