Medical Alert: Possible meningitis strikes SDSU student

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A San Diego State University student has been hospitalized for presumed meningococcal meningitis and campus officials are alerting students, faculty and staff who may have come in contact with the student.

SDSU’s student health services director sent an email out Wednesday night informing those at the campus of the health concern.

“We are working with the San Diego County Public Health Services to notify individuals who are believed to have had contact with this student and recommending that they receive preventive antibiotic treatment,” Gregg Lichtenstein, director of student health services, said in the email. “Several individuals have already been treated, and information about additional contacts will be available on Thursday.”

The student was not identified.

Meningococcal meningitis is a rare but potentially fatal bacterial infection that can cause an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord or can cause a blood infection. It strikes about 3,000 Americans each year and causes about 300 deaths annually.

Early symptoms include a high fever, severe headache and stiff neck, a rash, nausea, vomiting and lethargy. The disease progresses rapidly so early diagnosis and treatment is important.

The meningococcus bacteria can be transmitted by direct contact with oral secretions, through the air via sneezed or coughed droplets of respiratory secretions, or even through speaking closely face-to-face, Lichtenstein said. It also can be transmitted through sharing items, such as cigarettes or drinking glasses, or through intimate contact such as kissing.

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