Health

Meningococcal Case Confirmed at Downtown Hostel

Neisseria Meningitidis - Photomic
Neisseria Meningitidis - Photomic

A 24-year-old person who spent time at the USA Hostel in downtown San Diego has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported today.

The previously healthy person was admitted to a local hospital Saturday and is recovering. Laboratory testing today from the California Department of Public Health confirmed the diagnosis of meningococcal disease, which is an illness caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis.

HHSA has identified, informed and provided preventive treatment to more than two dozen close contacts who may have been exposed to the bacteria. The hospitalized person may have exposed others within close contact any time between July 4 and July 14 at the hostel, located at 726 Fifth Ave.

“While meningococcal disease can be serious and deadly, it is not spread through casual contact,” said Sayone Thihalolipavan, M.D., M.P.H., County deputy public health officer. “The risk to anyone who was not in close contact to the person is minimal.”

The bacteria can be spread through close contact by sharing items such as drinking glasses; silverware; cigarettes, vaping equipment or any smoking material; water bottles, by kissing, and by living in close quarters. The time between exposure to the disease and the onset of symptoms can be between two to 10 days.

Individuals who have had close contact with the infected person should receive antibiotics to prevent possible infection. Symptoms of meningococcal disease may include fever, intense headache, lethargy, stiff neck and/or a rash that does not blanch under pressure.

Anyone with potential exposure who develops any of these symptoms should immediately contact a healthcare provider or emergency department for an evaluation for possible meningococcal disease.

Preventive antibiotics are not recommended for individuals who were not in close contact with the infected person and do not have symptoms.

There have been five cases of meningococcal disease reported in San Diego County this year.  On average, six cases have been reported annually over the past five years. More information about the disease may be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) meningococcal disease website.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact