meningitis at San Diego State
Photo by Nathan Rupert via Flickr

According to, an 18-year-old San Diego State University student diagnosed with meningitis died Friday, leaving university officials scrambling to notify up to 400 people with whom she may have come in contact.

“Initially, we were thinking it was just a small group of people, but now we’re in the range of estimates of 300-400 people that we’re notifying,” said Dr. Gregg Lichtenstein, director of SDSU student health services and clinical services.

The victim was a member of the Kappa Delta sorority and attended certain fraternity parties on October 8 and 9. Fellow members of the sorority and anyone who might have been in attenedence at these events is receiving preventative medication.

University officials say Sara Stelzer, a freshman studying pre-communications and a member of the sorority, was admitted to a local hospital Tuesday morning with flu-like symptoms.

CNN reports:

Meningococcal meningitis is a severe infection of the brain and spinal cord. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms usually appear three to seven days after exposure. Symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting.

It can be treated with antibiotics but receiving treatment quickly is key.

The infection is a droplet infection, meaning that people have to have close contact with respiratory secretion to contract it. This means situations in which a person is sharing a glass, eating utensils, water bottles, cigarettes, or direct oral contact through kissing.

Lichtenstein gave CNN this advice for students who may have had contact with Stelzer.

“If somebody has symptoms suggesting meningitis, don’t go to student health services,” he said. “Don’t go to their doctor’s, don’t go to an urgent care center. They need to go directly to a hospital ER department for evaluation.”

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