COLLEGE PARK -- The University of Maryland Health Center was flooded with calls and visits yesterday in a meningitis scare prompted by the death of a 21-year-old sorority house resident Wednesday.
The state medical examiner's office said results from an autopsy the body of Jennifer Lynn Jones will not be complete until Monday, but a preliminary investigation indicated that meningitis was the cause of death.
The illness is caused by either a viral or bacterial infection, and can be spread through airborne germs or by sharing food and drink or by kissing. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache and nausea.
Dr. Margaret Bridwell, the health center director, 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.
Dr. Bridwell said any student who had close contact with Miss Jones should begin taking the antibiotic Rifampin, which was being distributed free through the health center.
The last reported cases of meningitis on campus here were in May 1990, when a 19-year-old freshman pledge of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity died, and in 1989, when a dining hall worker died of the illness.
Miss Jones, a marketing major who had transferred to Maryland from Michigan State University about a year ago, was found dead in her bed shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Delta Delta Delta house on College Avenue, just east of the campus.
The death occurred in the middle of Greek Week, which is marked with parties and other festivities.
Her friends said Miss Jones did not participate in her sorority's celebration the night before she was found dead.
Miss Jones was originally from Rockville, where she was a graduate of Magruder High School. Her parents and brother had recently moved to Florida.
"She was a good student, and she was going to graduate in another month," said Miss Jones' sister-in-law, Teresa Jones. "I think she was just a wonderful person."
"All the girls here are outstanding and she was definitely one of them," said Linda Gribben, the sorority's house mother.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Mary Magdalen Episcopal Church, 3820 Aspen Hill Road in Wheaton.