The Appalachian District Health Department (AppHealthCare) and Appalachian State University reported Saturday on a case of meningococcemia in an Appalachian State University student who lives off campus.

 Gram-negative Neisseria meningitidis diplococcal bacteria/CDC
Gram-negative Neisseria meningitidis diplococcal bacteria/CDC

Meningococcemia is a bloodstream infection caused by bacteria that can also cause meningitis. The individual diagnosed with the disease does not have meningitis.

The individual diagnosed with the infection is being treated, and actions are in effect to minimize contact with this person, per guidelines established by the State of North Carolina and the Centers for Disease Control.

School officials say all known close contacts who require prophylaxis have been treated or are in process of receiving treatment. Additionally, a special notification has been sent to those who we have identified as having possible risk of exposure, and they have been provided with information about prophylaxis options. This does not mean that the contacts have the disease; it is to prevent it.

In order to assist in continuing to identify anyone who may have come in contact with the infected person the North Carolina Division of Public Health is asking members of the public who patronized three Boone establishments to contact AppHealthCare’s on call nurse at 828-264-4995 extension 8 for prophylactic treatment.

The dates, times and locations are:

  • Boone Saloon on Aug. 22 between the hours of 11p.m. – 2 a.m.
  • The Local on Aug. 23 between the hours of 11p.m. – 2 a.m.
  • Café Portofino on Aug. 25 between the hours of 11p.m. – 2 a.m.

Anyone who visited local establishments on the following dates and times and shared eating utensils, food, drink, or kissed someone you do not usually have contact with should contact AppHealthCare for prophylactic treatment.

Meningococcemia is spread through close contact like kissing, sharing utensils with or drinking after an infected person.

“We want to increase awareness of individuals who may have come in close contact with the one case currently identified for meningococcal disease. We take this very seriously and are taking extra precaution to locate individuals who may not have received the additional communication shared in partnership with Appalachian State University. It is important for the community to know that these locations are named only for the reason of narrowing our efforts to identify those at risk. They are not named due to any action or inaction on their part or identified ongoing public health risk with frequenting their establishment,” said AppHealthCare Health Director Jennifer Greene.

Dr. Taylor Rushing, director of Appalachian State University’s Student Health Service stated, “We want to reassure our campus and community that the student diagnosed with the infection is fully cooperating with instructions to help reduce the spread of the infection. Through our close partnership with AppHealthCare and the North Carolina Division of Public Health, we are taking every measure to investigate this case and prevent the spread of the infection.”

Keeping up-to-date with recommended immunizations is the best defense against meningococcal disease. It is required for all Appalachian State University students unless the student has claimed an exemption such as religious beliefs.