MENINGITIS strain that killed 2 Ohio students also sickened third teen

Wednesday, June 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CANTON, Ohio (AP) _ A teen-ager hospitalized since last week with a meningitis-related infection was stricken by the same strain of bacteria that killed two high school students in May, investigators said Wednesday.

The bacteria Neisseria meningitidis caused a blood infection that killed Jonathan Stauffer, 15, and Kelly Coblentz, 16, within days of each other. They were friends who attended the same high school in Alliance.

Tests confirmed that the same strain of the bacteria sickened 18-year-old Christin VanCamp, who attends high school in Marlington, 15 miles away, said Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. VanCamp has been hospitalized since Saturday with a blood infection but is expected to recover.

On Tuesday, the state Health Department decided to vaccinate up to 5,800 students and staff members at six high schools in and around Alliance.

Over the weekend, thousands of residents lined up at hospitals for hours to receive antibiotics, which are effective for a day or two. The vaccine protects for three to five years.

The bacteria cause meningitis, a disease of the brain, and meningococcemia, a blood infection.

The germ is spread by saliva by such means as sharing eating utensils. Symptoms include high fever, headache, stiff neck, confusion, nausea, vomiting and exhaustion.