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Death Of Drexel University Student Being Probed As Possible Case Of Meningitis

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Authorities say the death of a student at a Drexel University sorority house is being investigated as a suspected case of meningitis.

Drexel officials say Stephanie Ross of Pittsburgh, Pa. was found unresponsive yesterday by housemates at the Phi Mu (Beta Tau) sorority house.

University spokeswoman Niki Gianakaris said Ross was transported to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.

She said the cause of death hasn’t yet been determined, but the university was treating it as a suspected case of meningitis and was working with the city health department.

“What we know is that she had an overwhelming bacterial type of infection, and she went into shock, and she had symptoms of diffuse hemorrhaging,” said Dr. Caroline Johnson, of the Philadelphia Health Department.

Prophylactic antibiotics were being made available through the university’s student health center for those who had close contact with Ross.

The university said Ross, a sophomore, was majoring in mechanical engineering.

Drexel University released a statement which said in part:

“The Drexel community’s thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.  The University is in close contact with her parents during this incredibly sad and difficult time.”

The statement added that Drexel’s counseling center was offering its services to members of the community.

Meanwhile, students on campus are shocked and saddened by Ross’ death.

“It’s definitely scary…knowing someone is lost is, it’s really sad and unnerving,” one student said.

“It’s just one of those very sad, and very very rare events that occasionally we see,” added Dr. Johnson.

Though Johnson says the virus doesn’t spread very easily, students are being urged to be on the lookout for symptoms including a high fever, rash and severe headache.

For information on meningitis from the Philadelphia Department of Health, click here.

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