1 dead following meningococcal infection, B.C. health officials confirm

Health officials are urging those aged 15-19 to get immunized after 11 people contracted the disease in the Southern Interior.

Interior Health urges those aged 15-19 to get immunized after 11 cases confirmed

Health officials are offering meningoccal vaccinations at clinics in several cities in B.C.'s Okanagan region for students aged 15 to 19 after 11 people contracted meningococcal disease. (Interior Health/Twitter)

An individual who contracted meningococcal disease has died in B.C.'s South Okanagan. 

Interior Health says the cause of death has not been confirmed and there are no details about the identity, age or gender of the victim.

For the past month, health officials have asked teens to get immunized after students in Oliver and Vernon were diagnosed with meningococcal disease, which can lead to meningitis.

Meningitis is an infection around the lining of the brain and the spinal cord. It is contagious and usually spreads through close contact between individuals through coughing, sneezing and kissing, or sharing cups and straws, a toothbrush or a cigarette.

"This disease can be very serious and can be life threatening," said Dr. Sue Pollock, a medical health officer.

Pollock says those aged 15-19 are the most susceptible to the disease.

Interior Health is encouraging individuals between the ages of 15-19 who haven't been immunized for meningococcal to attend special clinics.

They will be offered Dec. 18-19 on UBC's Okanagan campus.

The authority says the vaccine has been offered to Grade 9 students in B.C. since 2016, as part of the routine immunization program. Those who have already received the vaccine don't need to be re-immunized.

'Scary stories'

Elia Katz, 17, attended a clinic Sunday in Kelowna to get immunized with his twin sister.

"We heard about all these scary stories of kids getting sick in B.C. and we just thought that we should get immunized to not let that happen to us."

People with symptoms including sudden fever, severe headache, stiff neck, nausea or vomiting should seek medical attention, according to health officials.

There have been 11 confirmed cases of the infection in the southern Interior this year. One teen from the Vernon area was hospitalized with serious symptoms

Pollock says health officials have immunized nearly 2000 individuals in the affected age group.

With files from Brady Strachan.
 

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said there have been 11 confirmed cases of the infection in the Okanagan this year. In fact, there have been 11 confirmed cases throughout the southern Interior.
    Dec 18, 2017 12:26 PM PT