Man dies of meningitis; Illness brought to lake from out of state
A man was hospitalized and subsequently died the weekend of March 18 from meningococcal meningitis on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, two days after arriving from Tennessee.
“There have been no cases that have occurred in Tahoe,” Stephen Drogin, El Dorado County health officer, said. “It is definitely an isolated case.”
The man arrived at the lake ill, according to a statement released by the El Dorado County Health Department.
Three confirmed cases of meningococcal meningitis – also known as spinal meningitis – on the West Slope since Feb. 3 raised concerns about the possibility of the infection reaching the Tahoe Basin.
Kristina Bacon, 18, was the only case to result in death. Bacon was a senior at Oak Ridge High School. She complained of having a sore throat, went home where the symptoms worsened and she died Feb 27.
The two other patients, a 19-year-old community college student and a 16-year-old Ponderosa High School student are recovering.
The good news is that two of the three cases were not connected, Drogin said, which means it is likely that the third was also unrelated.
Drogin said that the number of reported cases is the same as last year and that the only difference is the proximity of time in which the infections occurred.
“It is important to inform the community in order to alleviate fears as well as empower people,” Drogin said, adding that people in the Tahoe Basin have no immediate cause for concern.
If Tahoe Basin residents do their best to keep germs at bay there should be no problem, according to Valerie Rudd, public health services manager for South Shore.
It is as simple as washing hands and covering mouths while coughing, Rudd explained.
Meningitis can appear to be the onset of the flu, so it is important to monitor the symptoms and see a doctor if they persist.
The case of the man on North Shore has little chance of repeating itself because the man didn’t acquire the illness in the Basin, and that type of meningitis occurs when people are housed together, Rudd said.
It is a disease most often found among military recruits and college students who live in dorms or close-quarter housing.
meningococcal meningitis – An acute bacterial infection, characterized by sudden onset of fever, intense headache, nausea and often vomiting, stiff neck and frequently a petechial rash with pink macules or very rarely, vesicles. Delirium and coma often appear.
It is the most serious form of meningitis. It can invade the bloodstream and can be carried to other organs including the eyes, heart, lungs, and the central nervous system.
It is transmitted through direct human contact, including respiratory droplets from the nose and throat of infected people.
Information provided by the 1995 American Health Association
Symptoms of Meningitis
Fever (greater than 101 degrees)
Severe Sudden Headache
Mental Changes (Agitation, confusion, coma)
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