Possible Tijuana Outbreak of Meningococcal Disease Kills SD Man

A Chula Vista man also died from the bacterial disease last December.

A 39-year-old man died of meningococcal disease this week and San Diego health officials are checking to see if the case might be linked to an outbreak of the illness in Tijuana, county officials announced Friday.

The unidentified man is the second man to die of the disease in the region in four months. A one-year-old baby was hospitalized late last month and a Chula Vista man who attended San Diego State University died last December as a result of exposure, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

HHSA is working with Tijuana public health officials, where 17 people have caught the bacterial disease since Jan. 4 and five of them have died.

"While meningococcal disease can be serious and deadly, it is not spread through casual contact," County public health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. "The risk to persons who are not in close, direct contact with an infected individual is minimal."     

The number of reported cases each year in San Diego ranged between four and 14 in the last six years. The cases announced Friday are the only ones reported in the county in 2013. Last year, there were eight meningococcal disease cases.

The agency is not recommending any changes to health guidelines for those who travel to Tijuana.

Anyone who experiences symptoms of the disease–fever, intense headache, lethargy, stiff neck, and a rash that does not blanch under pressure–should seek prompt medical care.

The bacteria is spread through close contact, such as sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, or water bottles, according to the HHSA. It also can be spread by kissing, smoking and living in close quarters.

The time between exposure to the disease and the onset of symptoms can be between two to 10 days.

County health officials said people who had close contact with the patient should receive antibiotics to prevent any possible infection, but preventive antibiotics are not recommended for those who were not in close contact.

They should, however, be aware of possible symptoms and make sure they have received the recommended vaccination against the disease, the HHSA said.

A vaccine to prevent certain strains of meningococcal disease is routinely recommended for children and adolescents 11 to 18 years of age.


– City News Service


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