While a number of American universities and colleges have reported cases, and in some cases, outbreaks of meningococcal meningitis in 2015, the University of Kansas lost one of their own to a different and noncontagious form of bacterial meningitis.
This past Sunday, University of Kansas freshman, 19-year-old Haley Drown of Leawood died from pneumococcal meningitis, according to local health officials.
Local media reported that Drown reported symptoms of a severe sinus infection prior to going to a Kansas City area hospital over the weekend, and the infection spread.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Pneumococci cause 13–19% of all cases of bacterial meningitis in the United States. An estimated 3,000 cases of pneumococcal meningitis occur each year.
Some patients with pneumococcal meningitis also have pneumonia. The clinical symptoms, cerebrospinal fluid profile, and neurologic complications are similar to other forms of purulent bacterial meningitis. Symptoms may include headache, lethargy, vomiting, irritability, fever, nuchal rigidity, cranial nerve signs, seizures, and coma. The case-fatality rate of pneumococcal meningitis is 10%.
In a University statement today, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said, “On behalf of the entire University of Kansas community, I offer our most sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Haley Drown. Our hearts go out to them as they mourn the loss of this young, promising life.”
Drown, a business major from Leawood, lived in Corbin Hall and was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority.