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SDSU student dies of meningitis

SAN DIEGO — A 30-year-old Chula Vista man who was a graduate student at San Diego State University has died of meningitis, and county health officials are seeking anyone who might have had close contact with him.

The man died Monday shortly after he was hospitalized, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

The county Medical Examiner’s Office said Marco Fagoada developed symptoms Sunday and went to a clinic Monday complaining of shortness of breath and fever. He died at Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista early Monday evening, according to the ME.

Fagoada could have exposed others to Neisseria meningitidis bacteria — which leads to meningitis and other meningococcal disease, including sepsis — between Dec. 3 and Monday, officials said. But they stressed that close contact is necessary for transmission to occur.

“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 through close contact, such as sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, or water bottles; kissing; and living in close quarters. The time between exposure to the disease and the onset of symptoms can be between two to 10 days.

County health officials said people who were in close contact with Fagoada should receive antibiotics to prevent any possible infection. Preventative medication is not suggested for people who were not close to the man, who took three graduate-level classes at SDSU.

“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 with potential exposure who develops any of these symptoms should immediately contact a healthcare provider or emergency room for an evaluation, the agency said.

Students with questions can contact SDSU Student Health Services at (619) 594-5281 on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., or call their personal healthcare provider.

Information about meningococcal disease is online at the Centers for Disease Control website.