Woman dies after party

Apr 112007
Authors: Nikki Cristello

A woman died of meningitis after attending a PIKE-hosted theme party last week, prompting university officials on Wednesday to issue a health alert to partygoers.

Sierra Krizman, 20, died of bacterial meningitis Tuesday at the McKee Medical Center Intensive Care Unit. The Loveland resident was a student at the University of Northern Colorado and Front Range Community College.

On Friday night, Krizman attended an MTV Video Music Awards theme party at the Mishawaka Inn. The event was hosted by the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, which is not recognized by CSU or the Interfraternity Council.

On Saturday night, Krizman fell ill, according to a UNC e-mail notice.

An autopsy Wednesday concluded she died of natural causes – specifically meningococcal sepsis, or bacterial meningitis.

While Krizman did not attend CSU, she attended a PIKE party where many students may have been exposed to the disease. Hartshorn Health Services held a meeting Wednesday night to inform and treat at-risk students.

“People tend to panic when they hear meningitis,” said Stephen D. Blom, Hartshorn director.

Kathleen Magee, a 19-year-old freshman restaurant and resort management major, had attended the party. On Wednesday, she was one of dozens of students who sought medication at the meeting.

“It’s better to be safe than to be sorry,” she said.

On college campuses around the nation, about 100 to 125 students contract meningitis – an inflammatory disease that affects the brain and spine. Of them, five to 15 die, said Dr. Jane Higgins, outbreak prevention specialist for Hartshorn.

“With Krizman,” she said, “the infection was so aggressive and fast, she didn’t get much warning.”

Victims can exhibit symptoms up to 10 days after exposure, though signs usually manifest after three or four days.

The on-campus medical center will offer free services to students who may have been exposed to the disease until Friday.

David Perloe, a 20-year-old junior business finance major and PIKE member, said the party was at a bar, and that everyone who was drinking had proper identification.

“Yes, we did host the party,” Perloe said. “The theme was MTV VMA’s. We have the party at the Mishiwaka every year, but the theme isn’t always the VMA’s. There were three buses worth of people who went to the party. It was a bar, and I’d imagine people of age were drinking. Anyone who was drinking was ID’d.”

Students who attended the party would face no judicial action on the part of the university if they were to seek help, CSU officials said.

Meningitis is spread through saliva – shared drinks, shared cigarettes or kissing. The illness is not spread through casual conversation or touching of doorknobs.

Interfraternity Council President Jarred Quintana said he had no comment on the party because the PIKEs are no longer under the IFC’s jurisdiction.

“We tried to cooperate with them when they were in under our jurisdiction,” he said. “They didn’t cooperate then and they aren’t cooperating now.

“We tried to obtain a list of names to inform people,” Quintana said. “The PIKEs did not cooperate when (the office of Greek Life) tried to negotiate with them.”

The president of the local PIKE chapter, Cory Johnson, denied the allegation.

“At this point, we have done everything, to my knowledge, that we were told to do,” Johnson said.

PIKE Adviser Ray Martinez said the fraternity gave the list of partygoers to the Larimer County Health Department and not CSU on the advice of legal counsel.

“I don’t know anything about anyone being uncooperative,” said Martinez, the former Fort Collins mayor.

Staff writer Nikki Cristello can be reached at news@collegian.com.


Meningitis facts:

– Spread through saliva (kissing, shared drinks, shared cigarettes)

– Not spread through casual contact

– One hundred to 125 college students contract the disease on an average year

– Five to 15 die

– Treated with Cipro

Until Friday, Hartshorn Health Services is offering free medication to those who attended the party. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If students experience symptoms after hours, they are encouraged to go to the emergency room.

Hartshorn Health Services: (970) 491-7121

Poudre Valley Hospital: (970) 495-7000

On college campuses around the nation, about 100-125 outbreaks in a year on average have a breakout. Of them, about 5-15 deaths.

Cipro, the medicine that should be taken if exposed at Friday’s party, will be available at Hartshorn Health center today and Friday from 8-5/ if experiencing symptoms after hours, it is recommended to go to the ER

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