A 17-year-old student from San Ysidro High School in San Diego has been confirmed positive for meningococcal disease, according to county health officials.
The previously healthy male was admitted to a local hospital Saturday morning and is recovering.
Health authorities have identified and notified family members and other close contacts to the student who may have been exposed to the bacteria. The student may have exposed others with close contact any time between Nov. 14 and Nov. 21.
While meningococcal disease can be serious and deadly, 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. “Meningococcal disease is spread through close contact with the infected individual. We are working to notify all who may have been exposed to the disease and to provide post-exposure treatment as needed.”
Neisseria meningitidis causes the most severe form of bacterial meningitis. Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can also be found in the bloodstream. This particular type of meningitis is very severe and can result in death if not treated promptly. Even in cases where treatment has been given, the fatality rate is around 15%.
The symptoms of bacterial meningitis are sudden, with fever, stiff neck, body aches and headaches. As the disease progresses other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, photophobia and seizures. A petechial rash seen on the trunk and lower extremities, bleeding complications, multi-organ failures and shock are usually final signs. This disease has the ability to kill within hours of getting it.
Up to 10-20% of older children and young adults carry this organism in the mouth and nose, though the carriage rate will vary with age and closeness of population. The majority of people that carry this bacterium have no clinical disease. The organism is spread person to person through respiratory secretions from the nose and mouth (coughing, sneezing and kissing). Experts are unsure why some people advance to meningitis disease while many do not.
Crowded living conditions facilitate the spread of the organism and places like military barracks and college dormitories are well documented areas of concern with this disease. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page
There have been eight cases of meningococcal disease reported in San Diego County this year, including the deaths of a Patrick Henry High School student in February and a San Diego State University student in October. 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.