LANSING — A 19-year old Michigan State University student died last week from the illness that causes meningitis, the Ingham County Medical Examiner confirmed Friday.
Carly Glynn, of Wyoming, Mich., died Feb. 9 at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing.
Initial testing proved negative for meningococcal disease, an illness that causes bacterial meningitis. But Ingham County Medical Examiner Joyce DeJong determined otherwise because Glynn tested positive for neisseria meningitidis, the organism that causes meningococcal disease.
Meningococcal disease is a rare but serious illness that occurs when meningococcal bacteria cause a systemic infection, called meningococcemia.
The illness becomes meningitis when meningococcal bacteria attack the brain.
An investigation by the Ingham County Health Department identified 15 people who may have had close contact with Glynn. All received preventive medications and none have exhibited symptoms thus far, according to the health department.
Common symptoms of meningococcal disease include flu-like symptoms, sore throat and a fever that rapidly becomes more severe, unlike most respiratory illnesses. These symptoms can develop over several hours, or they may take one to two days.
No new cases of meningococcal disease associated with this case have occurred.
The spread of meningococcal disease typically requires close contact with an infected person. It is not easily spread airborne like the flu or common cold. A vaccine is available for meningococcal disease, though the current vaccine does not protect against all strains.
Tests to identify the cause of Glynn’s death were conducted by the Sparrow Forensic Pathology Services and confirmed by the Michigan Department of Community Health Bureau of Laboratories with consultation from staff of the Centers for Disease Control.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices strongly recommends that college students have a current vaccination for meningococcal disease.
Guidelines regarding vaccination against meningococcal disease are available at the CDC’s website. A short summary of the guidelines for college students are available at the Ingham County Health Department’s website.
The meningococcal vaccine is effective against four of the five strains of meningococcal bacteria that cause most illness. It is not effective against the strain known as Type B, which is the strain that caused Ms. Glynnís illness.
Health officials said MSU students can visit https://immunize.msu.edu/ to check the vaccinations they self-reported as required by MSU.
Students, as well as faculty and staff, also can contact their health care provider for updated information.
Members of the MSU community also should foster a healthy immune system by practicing good health habits, including diligent hand-washing, getting plenty of rest and eating right, health officials said. Students also can help by checking on friends and neighbors who may be ill and encouraging them to get evaluated.