Georgetown student dies of 'apparent meningitis'

There have been outbreaks of bacterial meningitis -- caused by the bacteria shown here -- recently at Princeton and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Story highlights

  • Andrea Jaime was a student at Georgetown's Nursing and Health Studies school
  • She posted to Twitter late last week that she had a high fever, "I think I'm dying"
  • Jamie dies of what officials believe is meningitis; tests are being done to confirm
  • Meningitis outbreaks have been reported at universities in New Jersey, California
Andrea Jaime was a student in Georgetown University's School of Nursing and Health Sciences. Yet before she could graduate and help others, she became a patient herself.
And on Tuesday, Jaime died from what the Washington school said was "apparent meningitis."
Her loss rattled many in the Georgetown community. While stating "proper medical precautions have been taken and members of the campus community do not need to take additional action at this time" to guard against meningitis, the school advised students on how and where they could get medical help. It also offered counseling for those grieving the loss of a fellow student and friend.
"God gained an angel today I'm going to miss you so much," wrote one such friend on Jaime's Twitter page.
That comment was underneath a message that appeared Friday on Jaime's Twitter feed: "This is what dying must feel like."
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Responding later that day to someone's question, Jaime wrote "105 fever I think I'm dying."
School officials have not disclosed when, where or how Jaime got sick, including whether it might have had anything to do with her education at Georgetown. She was due to graduate in 2017 from the Nursing and Health Studies school, where she was a human science major, before she died Tuesday at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
"Andrea died from apparent meningitis," Georgetown said in its lone, brief explanation. "We are awaiting test results to confirm the exact cause (of death)."
In a statement earlier Tuesday, the school noted that "vaccination prevents against most cases of bacterial meningitis," one of five types of meningitis identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The school added: "Student Health Services are encouraging members of the university to pay increased attention to personal hygienic practices, including washing hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers regularly. To limit the spread of the illness, you should avoid sharing cups, cosmetics, toothbrushes, smoking materials or anything that comes in contact with the mouth."
There are about 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis annually in the United States, according to the CDC. Roughly 500 of those end in death.
And while babies and others with susceptible immune systems face especially high risks, no one -- even healthy young adults -- is entirely safe.
As the CDC notes, "Infectious diseases tend to spread more quickly where larger groups of people gather together. College freshmen living in residence halls and military personnel are at increased risk for meningococcal meningitis (caused by Neisseria meningitidis)."
Two U.S. universities have dealt with meningitis outbreaks recently.
There have been eight cases of the disease at Princeton University in New Jersey since March 2013, according to the CDC. The University of California, Santa Barbara, has had four confirmed cases since November 2013. There have been extensive vaccination campaign at both universities in the wake of these reports.