SDSU Student Infected with Meningococcal Bacteria; Her Contacts Being Notified

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Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. Image by Photomic via County News Center

County and San Diego State health officials have notified people in contact with an undergraduate student diagnosed with an infection caused by the meningococcal bacteria, including those involved with sorority rush.

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The female SDSU student is being treated at a local hospital, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported Wednesday.

HHSA and SDSU Student Health Services recommended close contacts of the patient receive antibiotics to prevent any possible infection.

In addition, potential contacts who may have been exposed during sorority rush events on campus last weekend have been recommended to get antibiotics at the SDSU Student Health Services at no cost from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.

“Meningococcal disease can be serious and deadly, but it is not spread through casual contact. Therefore, the risk to those who were not in close, direct contact is minimal,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. “We want anyone who may have been exposed to be alert for symptoms and seek care should they occur.”

Symptoms of meningococcal disease may include fever, intense headache, lethargy, stiff neck and/or a rash that does not blanch under pressure. Anyone with potential exposure who develops any of these symptoms should immediately contact a healthcare provider or emergency room for an evaluation for possible meningococcal disease.

The bacteria can be spread through close contact, such as sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, cigarettes or pipes, or water bottles; kissing; and living in close quarters.

The time between exposure to the disease and the onset of symptoms can be between two to 10 days. Individuals who have had close contact with the infected person should receive antibiotics to prevent possible infection.

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Preventive antibiotics are not recommended for individuals who were not in close contact with the infected person and does not have symptoms, the county said. They should be aware of possible symptoms and make sure they have received the recommended vaccination against the disease.

Eight cases of meningococcal disease have been reported in San Diego County this year. On average, 10 cases have been reported annually over the past five years in San Diego County.

A vaccine is available to prevent certain strains of meningococcal disease and is routinely recommended for children and adolescents 11 to 18 years of age, including a booster for those entering college if they received their last dose prior to age 15.

Information about meningococcal disease may be found here.

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