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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Second meningococcal case after student's death, Australia - 31st July 2011

One university student is dead and a second is in hospital after an outbreak of meningococcal disease in the north Queensland city of Townsville.

An 18-year-old medical student was found dead in his bedroom at James Cook University on Wednesday.

The Dean of Medicine and Dentistry, Professor Richard Murray, says the student was from Western Australia and was planning a career in humanitarian medicine.

He says a memorial service was held yesterday.

"This is a fine, very talented and widely admired and liked young man," he said.

Another medical student from the college has also tested positive for the infection. The university says he is responding well to treatment.

Professor Murray says people who have been in close contact with the men have been interviewed and given antibiotics.

"Certainly with the widened antibiotic clearance we wouldn't be expecting to see any further cases, however, vigilance of anybody really is important," he said.

Students and staff have also been offered counselling.

Meningococcal invades the area around the brainstem and spinal cord and can also cause blood poisoning.

In the past four years there have been between two and four deaths in the state annually.

Meningococcal is uncommon and has similar symptoms to the flu. Read More