University confirms bacterial meningitis as cause of undergraduate’s death
Todd Olson, vice president for student affairs, and James Welsh, assistant vice president for student health services, confirmed in a campus-wide email that Andrea Jaime (NHS ’17) was killed by a strain of bacterial meningitis. While vaccines typically do not protect against this particular strain, this strain is not very contagious and no new cases have been reported.
Olson and Welsh explained that Jaime’s case of meningitis was caused by meningococcal bacteria, specifically, a strain in serogroup B.
Meningococcal bacteria are less contagious than the flu or common cold and require direct exchange of respiratory or throat secretions or being in close proximity to an infected person for a long period of time to be transmitted from one person to another, according to Olson’s and Welsh’s email. The bacteria cannot be transmitted by touching a surface like a desk or a doorknob.
Olson and Welsh believe Jaime’s case was isolated. “As of tonight, we have no new confirmed cases of meningitis,” Olson and Welsh wrote. “Under the guidance of the D.C. Department of Health we are identifying members of our community who meet the criteria for close contact to make sure they receive preventive antibiotics (known as prophylaxis). This does not mean that these close contacts have the disease; it is to prevent it.” The entire student body is not recommended to take antibiotics, just Jaime’s close contacts.
Olson and Welsh recommend that all members of the Georgetown community continue to pay extra attention to hygienic practices, like washing hands regularly, and keep an eye out for the early signs of meningitis: sudden onset of fever, stiff neck, headache, or a dark purple rash. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should visit the closest emergency room.