Marianopolis student, 18, dies after contracting meningococcal infection
Public health agency in communication with woman's close contacts
Montreal public health officials and Marianopolis College say they are taking precautions following the death of an 18-year-old student who contracted meningococcal infection.
The woman, who has not been publicly identified, died on Saturday.
"In light of the passing of a student over the weekend, Marianopolis is working to ensure that all precautions have been taken. Students and employees have received recommendations from public officials," the Montreal CEGEP said in a Facebook post Monday.
Marianopolis did not return a request for comment.
In a separate statement, Montreal's public health agency said it is communicating with all the young woman's close contacts in an attempt to limit the spread of the infection.
Meningococcal infection can be spread through sharing respiratory or throat secretions, usually through close contact like coughing or kissing.
According to the agency, close contacts are defined as:
- People living under the same roof.
- People who have had sexual contact with the person concerned.
- People who have been in direct contact with respiratory secretions of the person affected (deep kissing or mouth-to-mouth).
Hugging and sharing a glass or bottle with the infected person are not considered close contacts. People living in the same household can also be at risk.
"People identified as close contacts by the public health department have been or will be given a prescription for antibiotics. Depending on test results, the public health department could refer for vaccination close contacts who have not been vaccinated against the disease," the statement said.
Dr. Lavanya Narasiah, a spokesperson for the Montreal's public health agency, said in an interview it is not clear where the 18-year-old contracted the disease.
Meningitis is an infection of the tissue around the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by a virus, by fungus or by bacteria, and it is usually spread the way other winter illnesses are spread — through secretions from the nose and mouth.
Signs and symptoms include:
- High fever.
- Severe headache.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- General feeling of illness.
- Red marks or pin-sized hemorrhages or bruises on the skin.
The bacterial kind of meningitis is considered very dangerous and, in rare cases, can cause death quickly after the onset of symptoms. In other cases, the infection can lead to amputation, hearing loss or brain damage.
Narasiah encouraged the public to ensure their vaccines are up to date.
Anyone with concerns is urged to call Info Santé at 811. More information is also available on the Quebec government website.