Jan 31, 2011 7:25 PM by Melissa Hawkes
A Kaplan family is mourning the loss of a loved one. Twenty year-old, Brigg Gary, died Friday. His family said possibly from meningitis.
State health officials said at least one other case of the strain of bacteria, which is related to meningitis, is currently being investigated in the area.
Regional Medical Director for Office of Public Health, Tina Stefanski, said
"it makes these young adults very sick, very quickly. The sooner you get treatment the better with most illnesses, but with this particular bacteria, by the time the person seeks medical care or goes and sees their doctor, it may be too late."
Unfortunately it was too late for Gary, his family says he died just nine hours after checking into a Lafayette hospital. Since then, anyone who has come into close contact with him has been treated with an antibiotic.
"People who usually come in contact with the person, seven days prior to the person's illness might have had contact with that person's secretions or saliva," Stefanski said. "So, if they ate or drank after them, shared a toothbrush, smoked cigarettes."
Five years ago, around this time of the year, the same type of bacterial infection caused an outbreak at UL. Stefanski said there's warning signs to look out for.
"Sepsis or meningitis, the symptoms are pretty similar. We usually think with meningitis, a headache and stiff neck, but with sepsis you can have fever, general aching,"she expplained.
After the outbreak in 2006, every student entering a state university is now required to get a meningitis vaccination. Gary's mom says he wavered the vaccination, a decision she now wishes she could change.
Health officials recommend young people up to the age of 21 to get a meningitis vaccination. Most children receive them at the age of 11, but if you haven't already done so, you have a few options.
The Family Health Plaza in Lafayette and Family Health Plaza South in Youngsville both offer vaccinations. Also, the Lafayette Office of Public Health also offers vaccines at a discounted rate for anyone 19 or younger.