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Health Officials Stress Rarity Regarding Recent Meningitis Death

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Aired 4/19/09

The death of a Del Mar teenager from bacterial meningitis over the weekend is raising concern about the disease. But health officials say the condition is rare. KPBS reporter Kenny Goldberg has the story.

The Del Mar girl is the eleventh resident in the county to die from bacterial meningitis since 2002. The disease is contagious. Even so, doctors say it's much less contagious than the flu or the common cold. Dr. Gonzalo Ballon-Landa is an infectious disease specialist in San Diego. He says meningitis is spread through coughing or sharing saliva. But he says it's tough to pass on to others.

Ballon-Landa : Well, let me put it this way, in my 24 years of practicing infectious diseases, I have never seen a secondary case.

There are two vaccines designed to prevent meningitis. They're recommended for incoming college freshman living in dorms. That group is said to be at increased risk. Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

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