Nov. 13, 2002
For more information, contact: Mark Kinders, 715/425-3771
Meningococcal Strain Identified in Student's Death
Preliminary laboratory tests conducted by the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene have determined that a UW-River Falls student died Monday from a meningococcal strain of type B serogroup. According to Donna Moraska, Pierce County Public Health Department Administrator and Health Officer, laboratory tests may continue with the final results to be released within a week by the state epidemiologist in Madison. Cases of the same serogroup are not necessarily linked unless confirmed by the state epidemiologist in Madison after further testing and investigation.
Erik Spindler, 20, a business administration major from Stillwater, Minn., died of meningococcal disease at the River Falls Area Hospital on Nov. 11.
Meanwhile, UW-RF and Pierce County Public Health have set an immunization clinic and information session for 9 a.m. until noon on Friday, Nov. 15, in the Presidents Room of the Hagestad Student Center. The information session is open to the public. The cost of the inoculation is $70.
UW-RF Student Health Services Director Alice Reilly-Myklebust noted that the immunization provides protection against four of the five strains of meningococcal disease. However, it does not protect against the B serogroup. An individual who had direct contact with that strain must receive a one-time treatment of antibiotics and should contact the River Falls Medical Clinic if they believe they were a direct contact of the recent case.
Moraska and Reilly-Myklebust urged those individuals who show more than two symptoms of meningococcal disease to seek treatment. The early symptoms usually associated with the disease include fever, severe headache, stiff neck, rash, and lethargy, and may resemble the flu.
Meningococcal disease is spread through direct contact. The American College Health Association defines direct contact as oral contact with shared items such as cigarettes or drinking glasses or through intimate contact such as kissing. The bacteria cannot be spread through such casual contact as being in the same classroom or using the same computer, and it cannot live for more than a few minutes outside of a human host.
Reilly-Myklebust encouraged students who have not been previously inoculated to participate in the immunization clinic on Friday. She noted that the immunization will help to provide students significant protection against four of the strains, should they have direct contact with an infected person in the future.
For more information about treatment, contact the Medical Clinic at 715/425-6701 or Pierce County Public Health at 715/273-6755. For more information about meningococcal disease, visit the Health Alert web page at the UW-RF Student Health Services office: http://www.uwrf.edu/student-health-service/health_alert.html
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