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

PHOTOS: City of Colwood hosts a ‘heartwarming start’ to the holidays

Colwood Christmas Light Up Celebration sees surge in attendance

Trauma sufferers support group takes shape on West Shore

Aaron’s Society open to more peer support groups with certified trauma practitioners

Mental health call temporarily shuts down Trans Canada Highway in View Royal

West Shore RCMP cite 14 percent increase in calls concerning mental health in 2019

B.C. Transit saves $300,000, scores 28 used fareboxes idle in California

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

Tenants above Wellburns uncertain after ‘nightmare’ sewage flood ousts them indefinitely

Tenants evacuated after sewage flooded basement of century-old building

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Camosun College for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Coachwerks Restorations come together to care for car

POLL: Will you be donating to charities over the holiday season?

Many here in Victoria joined others around the world to take part… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 3

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Oscar Hickes: Longest running hockey tournament on Vancouver Island cancelled

Patrick Murray, one of the organizers for the tournament, broke the sad news on social media.

Most Read