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February 14, 2014 (San Carlos)--A student who attended Patrick Henry High School in the San Diego Unified School District died last night of a suspected meningococcal infection, according to officials with the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA).

The meningococcal bacterial infection is known to cause serious illness in children and adolescents, and can infect the blood and cause inflammation of the tissues covering the brain and the spinal cord.

The student’s last day at school was Feb. 11. The time between exposure to the disease and the onset of symptoms is usually three to four days, with a range of two to 10 days. Persons who have been in close contact with the student have been notified by health officials that they should receive antibiotics to prevent the infection from developing.    

“Our sympathy goes out to the family of this student,” said “Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Parents should always be alert for any signs of infection in their children that could be caused by the meningococcal bacteria.

“The disease is spread through close contact with a person who has the infection and despite the death of this student; there is a low risk that anyone at the school was exposed.”

This is the second case of possible meningococcal disease reported in the county in 2014 and the first death. Last year, there were 16 reported cases and three deaths.

Symptoms may include fever, intense headache, lethargy, stiff neck, and a rash that does not blanch (change color) under pressure. Anyone who develops these symptoms should immediately contact a healthcare provider or go to an emergency department for evaluation of possible meningococcal disease.

A vaccine is available to prevent certain strains of meningococcal disease.  The vaccine is routinely recommended for adolescents 11 to 18 years old and individuals with certain medical conditions.  For more information about this vaccine-preventable disease, please visit www.sdiz.or


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