Tearful goodbye Friends of Leo Chan – Christina Starks

UVic student dies of meningicoccal disease

Bacteria strain can only be transmitted through contact with infected person

A University of Victoria student died last week after contracting meningicoccal disease, a bloodstream-based bacterial infection.

The rare disease is contagious, but the Vancouver Island Health Authority and UVic health services staff determined few people were ever at-risk of contraction. The student lived in on-campus housing.

“If a person is exposed to the nose or throat secretions of someone who is carrying that germ they may be exposed themselves,” said Dr. Murray Fyfe, medical health officer for VIHA. “It’s (contracted) through very close contact – that would be like kissing, or sharing food or drinks or cigarettes. And when we have a case like this, the people who are in the same household or sharing sleeping arrangements may also be at a higher risk.”

Since the young man’s death on Jan. 18, health authorities identified 19 people – including 17 in Greater Victoria – as as being at-risk of exposure. All have been given a preventive vaccine and antibiotic.

“Any individual that was considered to be in his closest contact group was contacted immediately, and has received the treatment,” said UVic spokesperson Patty Pitts.

However, simply sharing a classroom with the infected student does not merit cause for alarm. “(Classmates) don’t have to worry about it,” Fyfe said.

The student was admitted to Royal Jubilee Hospital on Jan. 14 and died in hospital four days later.

The symptoms of meningicoccal disease include weakness, fatigue and fever, and Fyfye said they progress “very rapidly.”

The disease can cause meningitis, the swelling of lining in the brain, but that was not the case in this incident.

In 2011, there were two deaths in the province related to meningicoccal disease among the 12 cases reported. In 2010, there was one death in B.C., and 11 reported cases of the disease.

“It’s a very rare infection. When we have a case like this, we don’t usually see an increase of (meningicoccal disease diagnoses) in the community,” Fyfe said. “The vast majority of people are not affected by (the disease). Up to 10 per cent of the population has one strain or another in their throat that they carry, and it doesn’t cause illness in most people.”

The medical health officer recommended not sharing food, drinks or cigarettes to avoid the spread of meningicoccal germs. Certain strains of the disease also have vaccines.

There have been UVic students in the past who have contracted meningicoccal disease, but no one had died until last week’s case, Pitts said.

UVic is offering counselling services and support to those affected by the student’s death.

For more information on meningicoccal disease, visit viha.ca/mho/disease/meningococcal_disease.htm.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Saanich mayoral candidates clash over leadership

Mayor Richard Atwell justifies slate, while Coun. Fred Haynes accuses Atwell of disparaging council

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Greater Victoria’s real estate market remains strong compared to rest of Canada

Despite cooling, Victoria’s real estate remains a seller’s market, the only one in western Canada

Permit to give deer birth control withheld until consultation with First Nations complete

Complexity of consultation will depend on level of First Nations support for the project

Alcohol and drugs ruled out in serious crash that closed Sooke Rd last week

Two of the three drivers taken to hospital have since been released

Fashion Fridays: Rock some animal print

Kim XO, lets you in on the latest fall fashion trends on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Saanich mayoral candidates prepare for first roundtable

Mayor Richard Atwell and Coun. Fred Haynes will be among four mayoral candidates at Thursday’s forum

Feds launching review of oil tanker traffic in bid to renew pipeline approval

The feds have ordered the National Energy Board to bring recommendations on whether pipeline expansion should proceed

Horvat leads Canucks to 4-3 shootout victory over Kings

Vancouver dumps L.A. in NHL pre-season contest

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Most Read