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Public Safety

Third Case Of Meningococcal Disease Reported In San Diego County

Health Officials Working To Determine If San Diego Cases Are Linked To Tijuana Outbreak

San Diego County health officials on Friday reported another case of meningococcal disease, which is a major cause of meningitis.

A staff member at Porter Elementary in the San Diego Unified School District is being treated at a local hospital, according to San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA). The last time the staff member was at school was March 15, according to HHSA.

“The risk to individuals who are not in direct contact with the infected individual is minimal,” stated Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., county public health officer, in a county press release.


This is the third reported case in San Diego County in 2013. A 39-year-old man died earlier this week, while a one-year-old child was hospitalized late last month and is recovering.

Across the border, Tijuana has been hit with 18 cases of meningitis, including six deaths. The number of cases is three times more than the city typically sees in a year. Health officials are awaiting test results to see if the Mexico and Southern California strains match.

"There are a fair number of strains,” said Steve Waterman, MD, MPH, lead for the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) U.S. Mexico Unit. "This is a new strain that hasn’t typically been seen in Southern California."

Local, state and federal health officials are actively tracking the situation on both sides of the border and providing antibiotic treatment to contacts of cases.

Health officials on Thursday urged 42 school districts in San Diego County to educate staff and parents about the symptoms of meningitis.


"It isn’t at the level where the Mexicans are recommending special vaccination campaigns, nor would we in the United States, but it’s still concerning," said Waterman.

The bacterial disease is not highly contagious and only spreads from close contacts, like sharing a cup or kissing. Symptoms include fever, intense headache, a stiff neck and a rash.

A meningitis vaccination is recommended for youth ages 11 to 18.

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