The Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office has now confirmed the death of an 18-year old University of Oregon student athlete was caused by a highly contagious Meningitis infection.
Half way through a press conference Friday afternoon, Senior Public Health Officer Dr. Pat Luedtke was handed a note. Then he announced:
Dr. Luedtke: "We heard from the medical examiner's office that due to a preponderance of evidence, he will be signing the death certificate that in fact this fourth case is Neisseria meningitides sero group B related to the outbreak. So that would confirm four cases."
Hans Notenboom is Medical Director for Sacred Heart medical departments. He says Tuesday was a "sad and difficult day for the Eugene/Springfield community" and the loss of 18-year old Lauren Jones was "devastating." Dr. Notenboom outlined hospital protocols that are now in place.
Dr. Notenboom: "For those who are U of O students and associated with U of O who come into the emergency department, specifically those who come in with fevers, headache, rash and other non-specific symptoms like this will be put on 'droplet' precautions."
That means reducing the risk of transmission of oral or nasal droplets. Dr. Notenboom said people with non-specific symptoms will be masked in public areas of the hospital.
Early Tuesday morning, Lauren Jones was transported from her on-campus dorm to Peace Health Medical Center University District. Then she was released. Several hours later, she was back at hospital, this time Sacred Heart RiverBend. She died Tuesday afternoon.
Lauren Jones is the fourth U of O student to contract meningococcemia. Three others are recovering. The university has begun a vaccination program which they plan to expand to the entire undergraduate population the week of March 2nd.