SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A 30-year-old San Diego State University graduate student from Chula Vista died of a meningococcal disease, and county health officials Thursday sought anyone who had close contact with him.
The man, whose name was not made public, could have exposed others to Neisseria meningitis, according the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. Exposure could lead to meningitis or septicema, health officials said.
The infected man died Monday shortly after being hospitalized. He was taking three classes at the time. County health officials said he could have exposed others as earlier as Dec. 3, but they stressed that close contact is needed to pass the bacteria. He was taking three classes at the time.
"While meningococcal disease can be serious and deadly, it is not spread through casual contact,'' said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "Therefore, the risk to those who were not in close, direct contact is minimal.''
The HHSA said bacteria can be spread by sharing drinking glasses, utensils or cigarettes, or by kissing or living in close quarters. The time between exposure and onset of the disease can be two to 10 days.
Those exposed to the bacteria should get antibiotics to guard against infection, county health officials said.
"The SDSU community is deeply saddened by this loss,'' said James Kitchen, the university's vice president of student affairs. "The health and safety of our students is our highest priority and we are working closely with health officials to identify those who may have been exposed.''
The HHSA said symptoms of meningococcal disease may include fever, intense headache, lethargy, stiff neck and/or a rash that does not blanch under pressure. Anyone potentially exposure to the virus, or who develops any of these symptoms, should call a healthcare provider or emergency room for evaluation, an agency spokesperson said.
Students with questions can call SDSU Student Health Services at (619) 594-5281 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. More information about the disease is posted at cdc.gov/meningococcal/.