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PHS Student Who Contracted Blood Infection Improving

Seventeen-year-old remains hospitalized

 

The Petaluma High School student who contracted a blood infection from the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis is improving in a hospital, a Sonoma County health officer said today.

Christopher Pozzi-Swain, 17, who was hospitalized over the weekend, is "doing much better," said Deputy Health Officer Dr. Karen Holbrook with the Sonoma County Department of Health Services.

Meningococcal infections can spread person to person by sharing beverages or food utensils, kissing on the lips, sharing toothbrushes or being coughed or sneezed on, the Department of Health Services said.

Symptoms vary but include high fever, a stiff neck, vomiting, rash, sensitivity to light, confusion and sleepiness.

The bacteria can infect the meninges, a thin layer of tissue that covers the bran and spinal cord, and the blood. If not treated with antibiotics, it leads to death in 50 percent of cases, but even if diagnosed and treated early it causes death in 5-15 percent of people.

Holbrook there is a high incidence of the infection in people 17 to 20 years old who can contract it in college dorms or in military barracks, and the bacteria is present in the throats of 5 to 15 percent of the population.

A close friend of Pozzi-Swain who attends Casa Grande High School developed symptoms and was hospitalized a day later, but it doesn't appear he has the meningococcal infection, Holbrook said. He is being treated for the infection in an abundance of caution and is doing very well, Holbrook said.

Pozzi-Swain's classmates do not require antibiotics unless they had close contact with him a week before his illness.

Petaluma High School Principal David Stirrat said attendance at the high school today was normal, and students and staff are being monitored through the Health Services department.

The high school was closed Friday through Monday for the President's Day holiday, and parents were informed by a robo-call Monday about Pozzi-Swain's illness.

"Chris is doing much better. He is alert and awake. He's significantly better than he was 48 hours ago," Stirrat said this afternoon.

There are three meningococcal disease vaccines in the United States that are recommended for children entering middle school (ages 11 and 12), high school (14 and 15 years old) and college students living in dorms who have not been vaccinated, health officials say.

-Bay City News

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