San Ysidro High Student Diagnosed with Meningococcal Disease

A 17-year-old high school student at San Ysidro High School is ill from confirmed meningococcal disease, an illness caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis, the County Health and Human Services Agency reported today. 

The previously healthy male was admitted to a local hospital Saturday morning and is recovering.  

HHSA has identified and notified family members and other close contacts to the student who may have been exposed to the bacteria. The student may have exposed others with close contact any time between Nov. 14 and Nov. 21.

Close contact

“While meningococcal disease can be serious and deadly, it is not spread through casual contact. Therefore, the risk to those who were not in close, direct contact is minimal,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Meningococcal disease is spread through close contact with the infected individual. We are working to notify all who may have been exposed to the disease and to provide post-exposure treatment as needed.”

The bacteria can be spread through close contact, such as sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, cigarettes or pipes, or water bottles; kissing; and living in close quarters. The time between exposure to the disease and the onset of symptoms can be between two to 10 days.

RELATED: Meningitis vs. Meningococcal Disease

Individuals who have had close contact with the infected person should receive antibiotics to prevent possible infection. Preventive antibiotics are not recommended for individuals who were not in close contact with the infected person and do not have symptoms. They should be aware of possible symptoms and make sure they have received the recommended vaccination against the disease.

Symptoms to watch for

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 room for an evaluation for possible meningococcal disease.

More information

There have been eight cases of meningococcal disease reported in San Diego County this year, including the deaths of a Patrick Henry High School student in February and a San Diego State University student in October. On average, 10 cases have been reported annually over the past five years in San Diego County.

A vaccine is available to prevent certain strains of meningococcal disease and is routinely recommended for children and adolescents 11 to 18 years of age, including a booster for those entering college if they received their last dose prior to age 15.

CDC information about meningococcal disease