A student who attended Patrick Henry High School in the San Diego Unified School District died from a suspected meningococcal infection, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency announced Friday.
The student, whose name was not released, died Thursday night, according to the HHSA.
The meningococcal bacterial infection is known to cause serious illness in children and adolescents, and can infect the blood and cause inflammation of the tissues covering the brain and the spinal cord.
The HHSA reported that the victim’s last day at school in the Navajo neighborhood was Tuesday. People in close contact with the student have been notified by health officials that they should receive antibiotics to prevent the infection from developing.
The time between exposure to the disease and the onset of symptoms is usually three to four days, though it could take up to 10 days.
The county’s public health officer said parents “should always be alert for any signs of infection in their children that could be caused by the meningococcal bacteria.”
“The disease is spread through close contact with a person who has the infection and despite the death of this student, there is a low risk that anyone at the school was exposed,” Dr. Wilma Wooten said.
This is the second case of possible meningococcal disease reported in the county in 2014 and the first death, according to the HHSA. The agency reported 16 cases and three deaths last year.
Symptoms may include fever, intense headache, lethargy, stiff neck, and a rash that does not change color under pressure. County health officials urge anyone who develops the symptoms to immediately contact a healthcare provider or go to an emergency department for evaluation.
A vaccine is available to prevent certain strains of meningococcal disease. The vaccine is routinely recommended for adolescents 11 to 18 years old and individuals with certain medical conditions.
Information about the disease is online at www.sdiz.org.
— City News Service