University of Oregon Student Dies of Meningitis

May 15, 2012

Health officials say it's unlikely those who had casual contact with a University of Oregon student who died Friday are at risk of contracting bacterial meningitis. The disease is believed to have caused the death of 21-year old Lillian Pagenstecher. KLCC's Rachael McDonald reports.

After news of Pagenstecher's death Friday, the University and Lane County Public Heath dispensed antibiotics to her sorority sisters at Chi Omega. U of O spokesman Phil Weiler says he's learned meningitis is only communicable between people in close contact-- sharing eating utensils, etc.

Weiler: "It's not the kind of illness that would be transmitted through casual contact. It's not something that you would be able to get sick from by touching a door handle for example that a sick person had touched. The likelihood of transmission is actually quite low."

According to the state, there have been 14 cases of bacterial meningitis in Oregon this year. Last year there were 31 cases and 2 deaths. About 1,000 people went to a candlelight vigil Sunday night to remember Lillian Pagenstecher. She was a psychology major with an interest in nursing-- expecting to graduate next year.

Copyright 2012 KLCC.