SDSU student died of strain not included in vaccine - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

SDSU student died of strain not included in vaccine

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An 18-year-old San Diego State University student died of a strain of bacterial meningitis that is not usually targeted by the vaccine provided to youths in the United States, county health officials said Monday.

Sara Stelzer, a freshman from Moorpark in Ventura County, began having flu-like symptoms the night of Oct. 12, admitted to a hospital Tuesday and taken off life support on Saturday, according to the school and county Health and Human Services Agency.

HHSA spokesman Craig Sturak said testing by state health officials found that Stelzer contracted a form of meningitis belonging to serogroup B.

The vaccine used against meningococcal diseases in the United States does not work against serogroup B meningitis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A vaccine against serogroup B is licensed in Australia, Canada and Europe, and was used in the United States to control outbreaks at Princeton University and UC Santa Barbara at the end of last year, according to the CDC.

Nearly 1,000 SDSU students sought preventative antibiotics or other medical help at Student Health Services over the weekend, an SDSU spokeswoman said. Some students with symptoms consistent with meningitis were found to be OK, she said.

The university contacted students who may have been in close contact with Stelzer, among them members of the Kappa Delta sorority and two fraternities where she attended parties Oct. 8 and Oct. 9 -- Alpha Epsilon Pi and Delta Sigma Phi.

Students can call Student Health Services between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays at (619) 594-4325 and press 2 to ask a question. Information is also posted online at

County health officials said bacteria is spread by kissing, sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, cigarettes, pipes or water bottles.

The time between exposure and the onset of symptoms is between two and 10 days.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease may include fever, intense headache, lethargy, a stiff neck and/or a rash that does not blanch under pressure. Anyone who believes they may have been exposed to the virus and has flu-like symptoms should be checked out by a doctor, health officials said.

Dr. Gregg Lichtenstein, the Student Health Services director, urged people with symptoms of meningitis to go to an emergency room for treatment.

Six cases of meningococcal disease have been reported countywide so far this year, according to the HHSA. One was a Patrick Henry High School student who died in February.

On average, 10 San Diego County cases have been reported annually over the past five years.

A vaccination is routinely recommended for children and adolescents, including a booster shot for teenagers headed to college if they were innoculated before age 15.

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