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Published On: Sun, May 4th, 2014

Hartt School senior, Patrick Chittenden, died from meningococcal meningitis: University of Hartford official

Bacterial meningitis has been confirmed as the cause of death of a senior at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford who died late last week, according to a university official Saturday.

In a health advisory from Dr. J. Lee Peters, Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Hartford yesterday, the death of senior, Patrick Chittenden was due to meningococcal meningitis, Public Health officials informed him.  Patrick lived off-campus, school officials note.

Public domain image/Mikael Häggström

Public domain image/Mikael Häggström

The strain of meningococcal meningitis is not the same that caused outbreaks at Princeton University and UC Santa Barbara last year, as Peters notes in the advisory–Protection against the particular bacteria which caused Patrick’s meningitis is included in the vaccines given in the United States which help to protect against developing meningitis. All University of Hartford students are required to get the meningitis vaccine before enrolling, so the likelihood is that you are already protected. 

Meningococcal meningitis is caused by the bacterium, Neisseria meningitidis, which causes the most severe form of bacterial meningitis. Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can also be found in the bloodstream. This particular type of meningitis is very severe and can result in death if not treated promptly. Even in cases where treatment has been given, the fatality rate is around 15%.

The symptoms of bacterial meningitis are sudden, with fever, stiff neck, body aches and headaches. As the disease progresses other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, photophobia and seizures. A petechial rash seen on the trunk and lower extremities, bleeding complications, multi-organ failures and shock are usually final signs. This disease has the ability to kill within hours of getting it.

Up to 10-20% of older children and young adults carry this organism in the mouth and nose, though the carriage rate will vary with age and closeness of population. The majority of people that carry this bacterium have no clinical disease. The organism is spread person to person through respiratory secretions from the nose and mouth (coughing, sneezing and kissing). Experts are unsure why some people advance to meningitis disease while many do not.

Crowded living conditions facilitate the spread of the organism and places like military barracks and college dormitories are well documented areas of concern with this disease. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page.

The university is advising students who have had close contact (within three feet for any length of time) with Patrick during the past three weeks and have any of these symptoms listed above to  visit a local emergency room as soon as you can to determine the meaning of the symptoms.

In addition they advise: If you have had close contact (within three feet for any length of time) with Patrick during the past three weeks and you do not have any of these symptoms, you can visit Campus Health Services (860.768.6601) tomorrow (Sunday) between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. for a dose of antibiotic that will protect you, as well as answers to any questions you may have.

The University is working to provide information and treatment to Patrick’s off-campus roommates and people within his close circle of friends. Peters, on behalf of the University of Hartford, offered condolences to Patrick’s family and friends.

 

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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