UI student dies of an unidentified infection

A University of Illinois student has died from an unidentified bacterial infection, and a second student is recovering from meningitis.

The two appear unrelated, and tests confirmed Friday afternoon that Robert H. Davis, 21, of Mokena, did not have a contagious form of meningitis.

Mr. Davis, a senior majoring in biology, died at 8:49 p.m. Thursday at Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, the UI said.

A female UI student was hospitalized Wednesday, and tests confirm she contracted meningococcal meningitis, said Robert Palinkas, director of the UI's McKinley Health Center.

Doctors and university administrators talked Wednesday and decided to track down those who might have had close contact with the woman. Those people were informed about bacterial meningitis, even though a diagnosis had not yet been made, and those who had close contact with the woman were offered preventive antibiotics.

Palinkas said 35 people were given antibiotics.

"I think we got to everybody," he said.

The diagnosis of bacterial meningitis was confirmed early Friday afternoon.

Close contact includes kissing or sharing a drink or eating utensils, Palinkas said. Roommates are generally treated with antibiotics as well, he said.

An individual decision was made with each person on whether to treat with antibiotics, based on the length of time and closeness of the contact.

Palinkas said there was rising concern on campus about meningitis by Thursday night. He said a number of students had called McKinley regarding Mr. Davis' death. Palinkas said he talked with Mr. Davis' family members and doctors and learned he died from an aggressive bacterial infection. The contagious form of meningitis was ruled out Friday afternoon.

"For a while there, we were worried: Is this an outbreak?" he said.

Palinkas said Mr. Davis' illness was not contagious, and he doesn't believe the illness posed any risk to others.

Those who believe they may have had contact with someone with bacterial meningitis can contact McKinley Health Center or their health care provider, Palinkas said. The most common symptoms are a high fever, stiff neck and headache. Anyone with all three symptoms should seek care immediately.

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