SAN DIEGO–An undergraduate student at San Diego State University has been diagnosed with an infection caused by the meningococcal bacteria and is being treated at a local hospital, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported Wednesday.
Health and Human Services Agency and SDSU Student Health Services have notified known close contacts of the individual and recommended that they receive antibiotics to prevent any possible infection. In addition, potential contacts who may have been exposed during sorority recruitment events on campus last weekend have been recommended to get antibiotics at the SDSU Student Health Services at no cost on Thursday noon to 5 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., said Tom Christensen, County of San Diego Communications Office.
“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 Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., 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.
Preventive antibiotics are not recommended for individuals who were not in close contact with the infected person and does not have symptoms. 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.