South Bay student recovering from meningitis

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SAN DIEGO — A student at San Ysidro High School is recovering from meningococcal disease and may have exposed others to the bacteria, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency announced Tuesday.

The unidentified male student was hospitalized Saturday, the HHSA said. Officials with the agency said family members and other close contacts who may have been exposed to the bacteria between Nov. 14 and Nov. 21 have been notified.

“While meningococcal disease can be serious and deadly, it is not spread through casual contact,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer. “Therefore, the risk to those who were not in close, direct contact is minimal.”

She said “meningococcal disease is spread through close contact with the infected individual.”

Health officials said bacteria can be spread through close contact, such as sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, cigarettes or pipes, 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.

Eight cases of meningococcal disease have been 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 last month. On average, 10 cases have been reported annually over the past five years in the region.

Health officials suggest that people who have had close contact with an infected person should receive antibiotics to prevent possible infection.

Preventive antibiotics are not recommended for individuals who were not in close contact with an infected person and do not have symptoms, according to the HHSA, but they should be aware of possible symptoms and make sure they have received the recommended vaccination against the disease.

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 those symptoms should immediately contact a healthcare provider or emergency room for an evaluation for possible meningococcal disease, according to county health officials.

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.

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