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Published On: Tue, Mar 11th, 2014

Drexel sophomore, Stephanie Ross, dies from suspected bacterial meningitis

The Student Health Center at Drexel University in Philadelphia is recommending antibiotic prophylaxis for those individuals who had close or intimate contact with a student who died from suspected meningitis Monday.

meningococcus

Neisseria meningitidis
Image/CDC

NBC 10 in Philadelphia identified the Drexel student as Stephanie Ross, a sophomore in the mechanical engineering program.

According to the report, Ross was found unresponsive Monday in her sorority house along Powelton Avenue. She was rushed to the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center where she died.

Although it is not clear what the etiology of the meningitis, the assumption is likely meningococcal meningitis.

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.

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

What is meningitis, how do you get infected and how can you prevent it?

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.

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page and the Outbreak News This Week Radio Show page
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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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  1. Princeton meningitis strain confirmed in Drexel fatal case - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] days ago, the community at Drexel University in Philadelphia was shocked by the sudden death of 19-year-old sophomore Stephanie Ross. At the time it was suspected that the cause of her dearth was bacterial […]

  2. Meningococcal meningitis group B confirmed in Drexel University student fatality - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] a follow-up to a  report Tuesday, Philadelphia health officials confirm that the strain of bacterial meningitis implicated in the […]

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