Apr 122007
Authors: Nikki Cristello

About 15 students visited Hartshorn Health Center on Thursday for a preventative checkup after an informative health meeting Wednesday that outlined student exposure to meningococcal bacteria at a Pi Kappa Alpha party last Friday.

But health officials said there have been no confirmed cases of meningitis and don’t anticipate any large outbreaks.

Sierra Krizman, a 20-year-old University of Northern Colorado and Front Range Community College student, died Tuesday of meningococcal sepsis, according to an autopsy report.

The infection can develop quickly.

“With Krizman, the infection was so aggressive and fast she didn’t get much warning,” Hartshorn Dr. Jane Higgins said at Wednesday’s informative health meeting.

According to the Larimer County Health Department, the disease is uncommon and serious.

Meningococcal bacteria commonly cause meningitis and septicemia.

The bacteria cause meningitis when they infect the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Krizman did not have meningitis.

Krizman had a different reaction to the meningococcal bacteria – septicemia. In other words, it infected her blood.

“Nobody knows why the bacteria acted the way it did in her (Krizman),” said Jane Viste, Larimer County Health Department spokeswoman.

“If your symptoms don’t improve over time and you get gradually worse, you should be seen by a health professional,” Viste said. “If you feel sick after you leave, don’t be afraid to go back. That’s what they are there for.”

Lisa Duggan of Hartshorn Health Services said about 15 students came in for preventative medicine Thursday. Students are also getting meningitis vaccinations, she said.

Gary Kimsey, spokesperson for Poudre Valley Hospital, said no one has come in for treatment.

“I don’t think we have had any confirmed or suspected cases,” Kimsey said.

“Chances are remote that someone would come down with this now,” Viste said. “But it is a good time to be alert.”

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


Symptoms of meningococcal disease:

– Fever

– Headache

– Loss of appetite

– Neck stiffness

– Discomfort when looking at bright lights

– Nausea and/or vomiting

– Diarrhea

– Aching or sore muscles

– Painful or swollen joints

– Difficulty walking

– Drowsiness

– Confusion

– Collapse

– Rash of red-purple pinprick spots or larger bruises.

From 1998-1999, Nationally: (source: Jane Viste, Larmier County Health Department)

Meningococcal bacterial occurs:

18-23 years old: 1.4 times per 100,000

College freshmen: 1.9 times per 100,000

Freshmen living in dorms: 5.1 times per 100,000

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