(Story updated 4:56 p.m., Dec. 13)
A 30-year-old student, Marco Fagoada, died Monday evening from meningococcal disease, an illness caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis, the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) reported today.
Fagoada, a previously healthy patient, was seen by a physician Monday afternoon. He was quickly admitted at a local hospital where he died shortly thereafter. He was a graduate student and attended three classes at San Diego State University. He lived off campus in Chula Vista and was not employed.
Fagoada enrolled in SDSU's Latin American Studies graduate program in the fall 2011 and attended SDSU through this semester.
HHSA is working with SDSU officials to identify and notify students and staff who may have been exposed to the bacteria. Fagoada may have exposed others with close or intimate contact any time from December 3 to Dec. 10, 2012. An email has been sent by SDSU to those who may have had contact with the student.
“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. “Meningococcal disease is spread through close contact with the infected individual. We are working to notify all who may have been exposed to the disease.”
The bacteria can be spread through close contact, such as sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, or water bottles; kissing; smoking; and living in close quarters. The time between exposure to the disease and the onset of symptoms can be between two to 10 days. Individuals with close contact with the patient should receive antibiotics to prevent any possible infection. Preventive antibiotics are not recommended for individuals who were not in close contact with the infected person, 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 rash that does not blanch under pressure. Anyone with potential exposure who develops any of these symptoms should immediately contact a healthcare provider or emergency room for an evaluation for possible meningococcal disease.
Students with questions can contact SDSU Student Health Services at (619) 594-5281 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, or contact their personal healthcare provider. Information about meningococcal disease may be found at http://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/.
“The SDSU community is deeply saddened by this loss,” said James Kitchen, vice president for Student Affairs at SDSU. “The health and safety of our students is our highest priority and we are working closely with health officials to identify those who may have been exposed.”
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. To find out more information about this vaccine-preventable disease, please visit www.sdiz.org.