Frostburg State student, 18, dies of meningitis-like illness; No other cases reported, school spokesman says


An 18-year-old Frostburg State University freshman who lived in one of the school's dorms died last night of what is being described as a meningitis-like illness.

Jesse Gardiner, 18, of Frederick County died at Sacred Heart Hospital in Cumberland after becoming ill over the weekend. University officials said the cause of death was a bacterial blood infection -- meningococcal bacteremia.

"Right now, the death is an isolated case and we're encouraging anyone with close contact to get immediate treatment," Frostburg spokesman Ty DeMartino said last night.

As of early today, no other students had developed the disease's symptoms -- severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, skin rash and nausea, he said.

The blood infection is spread through oral secretions that could be present in shared drinking glasses, kitchen utensils or kissing, DeMartino said.

Residents of the Sowers Hall dormitory, where Gardiner lived, were informed of his death last night.

DeMartino said that Gardiner's family, friends and others who had close contact with him have been treated with preventive medication.

DeMartino said that the schoolhealth center and Allegany County Health Department are on stand-by to care for people with symptoms of the disease.

Pub Date: 2/24/99

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