Bacterial Meningitis Killed Drexel Student: ME

Drexel University was put on alert Tuesday morning after a college sophomore died suddenly from what the Philadelphia medical examiner now confirms was bacterial meningitis.

Stephanie Ross, a mechanical engineering major, was found unresponsive on Monday by her sorority sisters at the Phi Mu (Beta Tau) house along Powelton Avenue, according to an official statement from Drexel.

Ross was rushed to the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center where she died.

“The Drexel community’s thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends,” said Drexel’s statement.

On Wednesday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Medical Examiner's office confirmed that Ross died from bacterial meningitis.

City health officials say they suspect Ross' death may have been caused by the same Meningitis B strain that impacted Princeton University in the fall. While most colleges, including Drexel, require meningitis vaccinations for students, the rare "serogroup B" that hit Princeton is not covered by American vaccines.

After eight meningitis B infections at Princeton, officials brought in a European version of the vaccine.

The same day as Ross' post-mortem diagnosis, learned an 8-year-old from Montgomery County, Pa. has been hospitalized meningococcal infection, the bacteria which can lead to meningitis.

A 3rd grade student at Skippack Elementary School, officials said the child's infection has prompted them to disinfect the entire 775 student school in Collegeville, Pa. They're also working with county health officials to identify students and staff who may have come in close contact with the 8-year-old.

Meningitis symptoms are similar to flu-like symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity. Other symptoms like confusion and a stiff neck could also be a sign of meningitis.

Officials with Drexel University as well as public health are reaching out to anyone who may have been in contact with Ross prior to her death. Members of Ross' sorority say she attended a regional officer training conference on March 1 and came into contact with several sorority sisters, including some from outside of our area.

The university offered prophylactic antibiotics at the student health center on Market Street for any students who were in close contact with Ross.

Any students feeling meningitis-like symptoms are asked to contact the Student Health Center at 215-220-4700.

Ross' death hit Drexel's Greek Life community hard. An email announcing her death was first shared through a Greek Life email chain shortly after 11 p.m. Monday.

Ross' sorority big sister Kris Trina turned to Facebook to remember her friend.

"I don't have any words to describe what I am feeling right now, but know that I love you and I hope that you are in heaven filled with cats and all of the other weird things that we love."

Ross graduated from Upper St. Clair High School outside Pittsburgh where she played softball.

Drexel student Stephanie Ross died March 10 from what is believed to be meningitis.

Pictured: Stephanie Ross

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