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UW-Eau Claire Student Dies
Of Meningococcal Disease
MAILED: April 22, 2002
EAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire sophomore died Sunday, April 21, of complications related to bacterial meningococcal disease.
Sean Coleman, a19-year-old sophomore computer science major from Rib Lake, died Sunday afternoon at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire. Coleman was admitted to the hospital around noon Sunday and died later that afternoon. Coleman became ill Saturday night with flu-like symptoms.
Coleman lived in Katharine Thomas Hall, a residence hall on lower campus that houses about 140 men and women.
Physicians from UW-Eau Claire Health Services, Counseling Services, and Housing and Residence Life met with students from Thomas Hall Sunday evening to discuss Coleman's death and to provide medical information about meningococcal disease.
As a precautionary measure, university housing and health officials are offering (at no cost) the antibiotic Cipro to students in Thomas hall. Others who may have had intimate contact with Coleman within the last week can receive a prescription. The medication - a single-dose tablet - was available to hall residents after Sunday night's meeting with university officials and physicians. Health officials strongly encouraged all those who lived on Coleman's wing within the hall to take the antibiotic. More than 65 students already have received the antibiotic, Health Services officials said this morning. Others who had contact with Coleman can go to Health Services on upper campus to receive the prescription.
University health officials are working with the City-County Health Department to identify those people who may have had close contact with Coleman. A vaccine, which is routinely offered through Health Services, also is available for a nominal fee.
Meningococcal disease - which is caused by a bacterium that can produce an infection of a person's bloodstream, spinal cord and the fluid that surrounds the brain - is contagious but not through general contact. To be exposed, a person must have direct contact with the carrier, including exposure to saliva or other bodily secretions. Simply being close to or sitting next to a carrier in a class would not cause students risk. Even with direct contact, the chances of contracting the disease are low, physicians say.
Coleman is the second UW-Eau Claire student to die from bacterial meningococcal disease this academic year. In November 2001, junior Amber Krenz died after displaying symptoms of the disease. Krenz lived with her family at her Eau Claire home.
Health officials stress that there is no connection between the two deaths. While deaths from bacterial meningococcal disease are rare, there is no reason to believe that the two deaths are related, nor would the two deaths several months apart be considered an outbreak, said Laura Chellman, director of Heath Services at UW-Eau Claire.
Counselors from the university's Counseling Center began meeting with students Sunday night and will be available to anyone needing assistance as they deal with Coleman's death.
For more detailed information about meningococcal disease and vaccine information, see www.uwec.edu/Admin/HlthSvs/meningitis.htm.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: April 22, 2002