A student from the University of Hartford has died because of bacterial meningitis. The State of Connecticut Department of Public Health confirmed the cause of death Saturday.
Students were informed of the untimely death of Patrick Chittenden on Friday. The University of Hartford sent a warning out to students about the bacterial meningitis.
"I just saw it like one hour ago," Kevin Silva, a freshman at the university, said. "I got an email that said that there was meningitis off campus."
Chittenden was a senior who lived off campus. He was part of the university's theater, involved in countless plays and was expected to graduate this month.
Bacterial meningitis is a communicable disease that is treatable with antibiotics. It is spread by saliva and mucus through coughing, sneezing or during close contact such as kissing, sharing utensils, toothbrushes or cigarettes.
According to the DPH, "since meningococcal bacteria cannot live for more than a few minutes outside the body, the disease is not spread as easily as the common cold or influenza."
According to the University of Hartford, students are required to get the meningitis vaccine before enrolling at the university, so students should already be protected.
"That's really scary. I'm definitely going to make sure I'm healthy now," Silva said.
The risk for getting this bacteria is higher in students if they have never been vaccinated or have been vaccinated more than five years ago against meningitis because it can lose its effectiveness.
The symptoms associated with bacterial meningitis is high fever, severe headache, extremely stiff neck, nausea or vomiting, red rash, sensitivity to bright lights and confusion or irritability.
If any students or staff who have these symptoms and were within 3 feet of Chittenden for any length of time during the past three weeks, they should visit a local emergency room as soon as they can.
If there are students and staff who do not have the symptoms but had still been in close contact with Chittenden, they can visit Campus Health Services for a dose of antibiotic to protect them.
According to the university, they are working to provide information and treatment to Chittenden's off-campus roommates and his close friends. The university is also working with the State Department of Public Health and the West Hartford Department of Public Health to ensure the well-being of the school.
"On behalf of the university, I again want to offer our deepest condolences to Patrick's family and friends," said Dr. J. Lee Peters, vice president for student affairs.
Campus officials said the Health Services office will be open extended hours Monday through Wednesday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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