The acting chief for Hull, Mass. was visiting his camp in Maine.

HULL, Mass. (AP) – Acting Hull Fire Chief Robert Hollingshead was listed in serious condition at Maine Medical Center in Portland after being found unconscious at his camp, and then diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, authorities said.

“It’s horrifying. It’s an utter shock,” said Hull Selectman Tom Burns. “We’re all pulling for him.”

According to Hull officials, Hollingshead, 50, went to Maine the weekend of April 17-18 to check on his campsite. He usually calls home from a pay phone because cell phone access at the camp is poor, but when his wife didn’t hear from him for several days, she called the Maine State Police last Monday.

Police found Hollingshead unconscious at the camp that day.

Hollingshead was taken to Maine Medical for treatment. Hospital officials said they don’t know how he contracted the disease. His condition was upgraded from critical to serious, a nursing supervisor said Monday morning.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health was notified on Tuesday, and the family – including the couple’s three daughters – is taking preventive antibiotics, said DPH spokeswoman Roseanne Pawelec. Hollingshead’s wife is a nurse at Hull High School, neighbors told the Boston Herald.

“This does not pose a public health threat in Hull,” Pawleec said. “It’s a single case, and it’s a tragedy for the family involved.”

According to the DPH, there have been 16 cases of bacterial meningitis in Massachusetts so far this year. Two people have died from the disease, which is spread by saliva.

AP-ES-04-26-04 0700EDT

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