Health department urges vaccines after SD college student's death
PIERRE, S.D. - After the death of a basketball player at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell due to the meningococcus bacteria, the South Dakota Department of Health is encouraging vaccinations.
PIERRE, S.D. – After the death of a basketball player at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell due to the meningococcus bacteria, the South Dakota Department of Health is encouraging vaccinations.
There is a vaccine that will protect against four of the strains of meningococcus. It is recommended for children 11 through 18 years of age and college freshmen. Meningococcal vaccine is available from family health care providers and campus student health centers.
For those who were in close contact with the infected person, the department disease prevention staff has been contacting those individuals to offer them antibiotic prophylaxis, said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the department.
“This is a serious illness but we want to emphasize that prophylaxis is only necessary for those who had very close contact, such as sharing a water bottle or kissing, or roommates. Those with casual contact are at low risk and do not need antibiotic prophylaxis.”
The meningococcus bacteria can cause a severe bacterial infection of the bloodstream and the lining covering the brain and spinal cord. It spreads by direct close contact with nose or throat discharges of an infected person.
South Dakota has reported nine cases of meningococcal infection in the past 5 years.
The department provides vaccines for those 11-18 years of age who are eligible for the federal Vaccines for Children Program (Medicaid eligible, Native American or Alaskan Native, uninsured or underinsured).