Published On: Thu, Feb 21st, 2013

Petaluma teen, Christopher Pozzi-Swain, hospitalized with meningococcal disease

A Petaluma High School student has been diagnosed and hospitalized with serious case of meningococcal bloodstream infection prompting the school to notify students and parents about symptoms to be alert for, according to a Sonoma County Health Department press release Feb. 20.

Image/ABC Video Screen Shot

Image/ABC Video Screen Shot

The student has been identified as 17-year-old Christopher Pozzi-Swain, according to ABC San Francisco affiliate KGO-TV.

Health officials say although the teen is seriously ill, he is alert and improving.

According to the report, a few dozen students have taken prophylactic antibiotics to date.

Sonoma County Health Officer Lynn Silver Chalfin M.D. confirms there is no outbreak in the high school.

Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness that is caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus.

In the case of the Christopher, his illness was a bloodstream infection also known as bacteremia or septicemia.

The more common and familiar manifestation of this disease is  meningococcal meningitis, the most severe form of bacterial meningitis.

If not treated, meningococcal disease leads to death in 50% of cases. Even if diagnosed early and treated with antibiotics it still causes death in 5-15% of people.

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.

If you have close contact with someone with meningococcal meningitis, see your doctor for prophylactic antibiotics.

Meningococcal meningitis is a devastating disease with epidemic potential. This disease is considered a medical emergency and if you have the classic symptoms see your health care professional. It can be treated with antibiotics, but without delay.

There is a vaccine available that protects against most of the common strains of meningococcal meningitis seen in the US.

If a person believes they may have had very close contact with the affected individual after February 9 and they have not been contacted by the Department of Health Services, they should call             (707) 565-4567      .


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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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