Sick OSU football player in hospital; county says a student may have meningococcal disease

Seth Collins (Courtesy Oregon State football)

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State confirmed wide receiver and former quarterback Seth Collins "is in the hospital being treated for an illness" on Monday.

The same day, county health officials issued a press release saying "an undergraduate student attending Oregon State University in Corvallis is being treated at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center for suspected meningococcal disease."

Due to health and student privacy laws, the university and the county cannot comment on whether the two situations are related.

"We're going to support Seth and we're going to be there for him in any way we possibly can," head coach Gary Andersen said. "My thoughts and prayers are with him, just like the team."

Collins played quarterback for Oregon State last season before announcing plans to transfer.

Then he changed his mind and rejoined the team at wide receiver.

An outbreak of meningococcal disease on the University of Oregon campus in 2015 claimed the life of a freshman student-athlete and sickened several other students.

The outbreak resulted in warnings from state and county health officials and mass vaccination clinics on campus.

The mother of the student who died sued the hospital emergency room that initially saw her daughter and sent her home.

Oregon State University started requiring the vaccine for incoming students in Fall 2015.

What is meningococcal disease?

The Benton County Health Department issued the following press release on the topic Monday:

Meningococcal disease is uncommon. It is caused by bacteria present in the throat or nasal passages of about 10 percent of the general population. Most people can carry the bacteria and never become ill. The disease is not highly contagious and is transmitted through direct contact with droplets from an ill person coughing or sneezing; other discharges from the nose or throat; or by sharing of eating and drinking utensils, smoking devices; or intimate contact.
Symptoms of the disease are high fever, headache and stiff neck. Some people do not get meningitis, but they contract an infection of the bloodstream, which causes fever and a rash. This rash develops rapidly and usually appears on the armpits, groin and ankles, as well as in areas where elastic pressure is applied.
The Benton County Health Department is working with Oregon State University officials, local medical providers, state public health officials, as well as friends and family of the patient to identify anyone who may have had enough close exposure to require preventive antibiotic treatment. So far, 130 individuals have received preventive treatment. Since the disease is not easily spread from one person to another, health officials believe only a limited number of additional people will be identified as needing preventive treatment at this time.
County health officials said customarily individuals, who have spent at least four hours cumulatively in close, face-to-face association with a person suffering from meningococcal disease within 7 days before the illness started, are at risk of catching meningococcal disease.
In the case of the OSU student, symptoms first appeared on Saturday, Nov. 12. School classmates, those living in nearby residences, healthcare workers attending the case, and those who have had only social contact are generally not at risk.
The best way to prevent meningococcal disease is by vaccination. Other ways to lower the risk of infection include:
· Providing vaccines to children and young adults.
· Preventing respiratory tract infections by receiving an influenza vaccine and avoiding close contact with people with coughs and colds.
· Engaging in frequent hand-washing.
· Not sharing cups, water bottles, eating utensils or smoking devices.
· Not smoking tobacco or marijuana. Studies have shown that smokers are 3-4 times more likely to contract the disease.
· Not letting children be exposed to second hand cigarette smoke.
Vaccination against meningococcal disease is recommended for all children 11 to 18 years old. Oregon State University requires incoming students under the age of 22 to be immunized with the quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against 4 strains of the disease. OSU Student Health Services and most other health care providers have an additional vaccine on request that protects against one other common strain of meningococcal disease, strain B.
The last case of meningococcal disease in Benton County was a single case reported in May 2014.
More information on meningococcal disease is available by calling the OSU Student Health Services Nurse Advice line at 541-737-2724 or Benton County Health Department communicable disease nurses at 541-766-6835 or by visiting these websites:
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