San Diego Student Diagnosed with Meningococcal Disease

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The County Health and Human Services Agency has announced a student at Nazareth School San Diego has tested positive for meningococcal disease. As the student is undergoing treatment at a local hospital, county health officials are working to identify other students that may have come into contact to determine if antibiotic treatment is necessary. The HHSA is not currently recommended antibiotics for anyone at the K through eighth-grade school if they were not in close contact with the affected individual. 

“While meningococcal disease can be serious and deadly, it is not spread through casual contact. Therefore, the risk to those who were not in close, direct contact is minimal,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “We want to make sure students are up to date on immunizations and are asking people in the school community to look for the signs and symptoms of the disease.”

Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria meningitidis and is spread through close contact. For many people, the bacteria can exist in the mouth and nose without causing any symptoms. The bacteria can, however, be the cause of a potentially life-threatening, meningitis, an inflammation of brain tissue and/or a bloodstream infection. 

The bacteria are often spread through close contact, including actions such as kissing, sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, smoking materials, water bottles, lipstick, etc. An effective measure to protect your body from infection is to avoid sharing items with others altogether. 

Symptoms of the disease may include fever, intense headache, sensitivity to light and noise, stiff neck, and or a rash. The HHSA recommends anyone who develops these symptoms to immediately seek medical attention and undergo testing for possible meningococcal disease. 

This marks the first case of meningococcal disease in San Diego for 2020. There were a total of eight reported cases in San Diego County in 2019. 

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