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.


Just Posted

Some SD62 schools without emergency supplies

PACs want province to step up with funding

Jazz songstress Ellen Doty brings her sweet sound to Hermann’s Jazz Club

March 27 concert in Victoria part of national CD release tour

No injuries in single-vehicle accident on Sooke Road

Traffic moving slowly in both directions

McClure house fire saw Victoria firefighters utilize drone for first time in live situation

Aerial device feeds intel to crews to help formulate firefighting action plans

View Royal residents to see minor tax increase

The 0.92 per cent increase is significantly lower than what was projected

Submariners come home after 197-day deployment

Tears and laughter filled the jetty where emotional friends and family welcomed the HMCS Submarine Chicoutimi

Women’s Expo seeks to empower women this weekend

Victoria Women’s Expo set for Saturday and Sunday at Pearkes Recreation Centre

B.C. Scientists witness first-ever documented killer whale infanticide

“It’s horrifying and fascinating at the same time.”

Charges formally laid against Nanaimo city manager

City of Nanaimo CAO Tracy Renee Samra charged with fear of injury/damage by another person

Okanagan Falls winery showing international photo project

Liquidity Wines will be sole Canadian show of National Geographic’s Photo Ark

Lawyer for one suspect in beating of man with autism says he’s not guilty

Ronjot Singh Dhami will turn himself in, lawyer said

Liberals awarded $100,000 contract to man at centre of Facebook data controversy

Christopher Wylie says his voter-profiling company collected private information from 50 million Facebook users

Facebook’s Zuckerberg admits mistakes in privacy scandal

Zuckerberg admits to privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm, but no apology

UPDATE: Former B.C. city councillor sentenced nine months for sexual assault

Dave Murray, convicted this past fall, hired a private investigator to intrude on the victim’s life.

Most Read