Student's death not caused by meningitis Doctors unsure what caused death at UM sorority house.

April 10, 1992|By Joe Nawrozki and Lou Ferrara

COLLEGE PARK JOE NAWROZKI IS A STAFF WRITER AND LOU FERRARA IS A CONTRIBUTING WRITER FROM COLLEGE PARK. — COLLEGE PARK -- The death this week of a University of Maryland senior in her sorority house bedroom was not caused by meningitis as originally believed, the director of the campus health center said today.

Dr. Margaret Bridwell, the director, said that a preliminary report from the state Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore showed that Jennifer Lynn Jones, 21, did not die of the disease, as campus medical officials had said yesterday.

"It is not meningitis, they now say," Dr. Bridwell said. "They've done enough tests that they have ruled out the meningitis organism.

"You feel like, or at least you wish you had, a diagnosis," Dr. Bridwell said. "Now they just don't know."

Miss Jones' body was found Wednesday at 6 p.m. by a sorority sister, police said. Miss Jones had gone to bed, witnesses told police, about 10 p.m. Tuesday. Sorority sisters tried unsuccessfully to revive her, said several members of the sorority.

Today, a spokesman for the Prince George's County Fire Department said two volunteer firefighters who were working as busboys in the sorority house also tried to revive Miss Jones.

"It was obvious to them she had been dead for a couple of hours," said Pete Piringer, the spokesman.

A county police official said yesterday a preliminary examination of the body did not indicate the death was caused by foul play or suicide.

Dr. Bridwell said she received a call from the medical examiner's office this morning after laboratory tests were completed. Those tests were conducted, she said, on the victim's spinal fluid, blood and body tissue.

The state Medical Examiner's Office said complete results from an autopsy on the body of Miss Jones will not be complete until Monday.

Since the woman's body was found, the UM Health Center has been flooded with calls and visits in a meningitis scare prompted the erroneous report that Miss Jones died of the disease.

Before this morning's results from the medical examiner's office, Dr. Bridwell said early indications showed that Miss Jones probably had contracted a bacterial strain of meningitis because of the various symptoms she had, including a skin rash.

She said no cases of students with symptoms detected on the victim have been reported. More than 200 people have begun taking precautionary doses of an antibiotic that was distributed free.

The county Health Department, meanwhile, advised those taking the antibiotic to stop the medication.

Miss Jones, a marketing major who had transferred to Maryland from Michigan State University about a year ago, lived at the Delta Delta Delta house on College Avenue, just east of the campus.

Miss Jones was originally from Rockville, where she was a graduate of Magruder High School. Her parents and brother had recently moved to Florida.

Delta Delta Delta has about 100 members, 60 of them living in the house.

The sorority will have a memorial service tomorrow at its house beginning at 4 p.m.

Joe Nawrozki is a staff writer and Lou Ferrara is a contributing writer from College Park.

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