Health officials determine student’s cause of death (Feb. 9, 2012)

Last updated: Feb. 17, 2012

On late evening Feb. 9, Carly Glynn, a 19-year-old Michigan State University student living in Snyder-Phillips residence hall, was taken to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing and died a few hours later. Officials with the Ingham County Health Department have determined Glynn died of meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal disease is a rare but serious illness. When meningococcal bacteria cause a systemic infection, it is called meningococcemia. This has been confirmed in Glynn's case. When meningococcal bacteria attack the brain it is called meningitis, which has not been confirmed in Glynn's case at this time.

It is important to note that no other MSU students have shown symptoms suggesting a serious infection, and there is nothing to suggest an ongoing risk for the campus community.

As soon as an infectious agent was suspected, MSU responded rapidly, working closely with the health department and following protocol from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MSU's University Physician's Office helped identify those people who may have been in close contact with the student and could be at risk of infection. Those individuals identified as being at risk received antibiotic prophylaxis.

Officials with the University Physician's Office and Residential Housing Services met with students in the Snyder-Philips residence hall on Feb. 10, addressing their concerns. Counselors also have been made available to students as well.

Though meningococcal disease is rare, not highly contagious and no other suspected cases have been identified, students who experience flu-like symptoms, sore throat and a fever that rapidly becomes more severe, unlike most respiratory illnesses, should contact the Olin Student Health Center nurse line at 517-353-5557 or a health care provider. Anyone getting rapidly ill should go directly to the emergency room.

There are steps that members of the MSU community can take to protect against all serious infections. First, check your vaccination record. Students can log into https://immunize.msu.edu/to check the vaccinations they self-reported as required by MSU. Students, as well as faculty and staff, also can contact their health care provider for updated information.

The CDC strongly recommends college students have a current vaccination for meningococcal disease. Guidelines regarding vaccination against meningococcal disease are available at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/mening/#vacc, and a summary of the guidelines for college students are available at http://hd.ingham.org. The meningococcal vaccine is effective against four of the five major strains of meningococcal bacteria. Glynn was vaccinated, but the vaccine is not effective against the strain known as Type B, which is the strain that caused her illness.

Members of the MSU community also should foster a healthy immune system by practicing good health habits, including diligent hand-washing, getting plenty of rest and eating right. Students also can help by checking on friends and neighbors who may be ill and encouraging them to get evaluated.