Montreal’s regional public health board (DRSP) has launched an investigation after a young woman died of a meningococcal infection over the weekend.
"People identified as close contacts by the public health department have been or will be given a prescription for antibiotics. Depending on test results, the public health department could refer for vaccination close contacts who have not been vaccinated against the disease," the statement said.
On its website, the DRSP said it is identifying and contacting anyone who may have been in close contact with the woman prior to her death on Saturday. This would include those living under the same roof as the woman, anyone who had sexual relations with her or anyone who might have come into contact with her respiratory secretions.
Those identified as having been in close contact will have to be treated with antibiotics. Also, those who were in close contact and have not been vaccinated against the infection can be referred to receive one by the DRSP.
Different strains of meningococcal bacteria can occur in a person’s respiratory system. They can cause serious illnesses including meningitis and blood poisoning.
Meningococcal infections occur most frequently at the end of winter and start of spring. Anyone concerned about their health or that of a family member is urged to call Info-Santé at 811.
The Montreal Public Health Department is searching for classmates, friends, and others who associated with a teenager who died this past weekend.
An 18-year-old student at Marianopolis College died on Saturday after contracting a bacterial meningococcal infection in the bloodstream.
She attended classes throughout the day on Friday and went out in the evening to celebrate her 18th birthday. We were with her all day. She really wasnt feeling well. She was complaining about a cold she had developed a week before, but we didnt think it was anything serious, said her friend, Victoria-Angel Tiano, who said her friend didnt drink much alcohol that evening because of her illness. She really wanted to celebrate and enjoy her time at her party and deal with her illness over the weekend, because she thought it was a cold.
She died Saturday afternoon from the infection. Tiano says she feels "terrible" about her friends death. "This weekend has been crazy. It doesnt feel real at all.
Public health officials immediately began tracking down the people who were in close contact with her in the days before her death because they are at risk of coming down with serious health complications. "Its very rare that it would lead to a death before it would get diagnosed and treated," said Dr. Lavanya Narasiah of Montreal Public Health.
Public health officials are also recommending close contacts of the young woman be vaccinated against several strains of meningococcal bacteria.
It is important to know that a hug, or sharing a drink or bottle with the infected person is not considered close contact, Montreal Public Health says. Since 2013, there have been 40 cases of this type of infection in Montreal, including three deaths.
(If you have) flu-like symptoms, like muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, severe headache or developing a special type of rash or something unusual, to go to the emergency and get yourself evaluated, said Narasiah, who added that the best way to protest against infection like meningitis is to ensure vaccinations are up to date.