‘Vibrant’ student brain dead after contracting meningitis

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SAN DIEGO, CAlif. — Friends and loved ones are mourning a San Diego State University freshman who was left brain dead after contracting meningococcal meningitis — just a week after she attended homecoming activities.

KTLA reported that the 18-year-old woman, identified by friends and the university as Sara Stelzer, was admitted to a San Diego hospital Tuesday morning with flu-like symptoms.

HHSA and university officials were working to notify students and staff who may have been exposed to the bacteria, Neisseria meningitidis, between Oct. 5 and Oct. 14.

Health officials emphasized that while meningococcal disease can be fatal, it is not spread through casual contact.

“Therefore, the risk to those who were not in close, direct contact is minimal,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, public health officer of San Diego County.

According to health officials, Neisseria meningitidis can be spread by sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, cigarettes or pipes, or water bottles; kissing; and living in close quarters.

Two to 10 days typically elapse between exposure to meningococcal disease and the onset of symptoms.

Those symptoms include fever, intense headache, lethargy, stiff neck and a rash that does not blanch under pressure.