In a follow-up to the death of Georgetown University nursing student, Andrea Jaime, the university has announced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the cause was meningococcal meningitis by Neisseria meningitis serogroup B.
University officials say they are working closely with the CDC and District of Columbia Department of Health to respond to this case and provide information to our community. In addition, no new confirmed cases of meningitis have been reported.
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 are no currently licensed meningitis vaccines for serogroup B in the United States.
A vaccine for meningitis B, Novartis’ Bexsero, has been used at Princeton University and the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) after meningitis outbreaks were reported. If an outbreak were to occur at Georgetown University, the decision to use the investigational vaccine requires working with the FDA, CDC and D.C. Department of Health to carefully review the particular circumstances of the outbreak, including the number of cases, the population size of the institution, the duration of time between cases, and the characteristics of the bacteria causing the outbreak.
Members of the University community who experience symptoms, including sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck, or dark purple rash, or have health concerns should immediately visit the Student Health Center or call (202) 687-2200 during business hours. After hours students should call (202) 444-7243 and ask for the clinician on call for the Student Health Center. If you are experiencing these symptoms, please visit the closest emergency room.
The family of Andrea Jaime released the following statement Thursday:
“We wish to express our gratitude to the many people who have sent their thoughts and prayers to us during this time of tragedy and despair for our family. Andrea was a blessing to our lives and will forever live in our hearts.
“As we celebrate the life of our dear Andrea, we ask that you please respect our family’s need for privacy at this time.”