Hospital staff get antibiotic treatment

Precaution follows patient's death from infection

December 05, 2006|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,sun reporter

Some St. Joseph Medical Center staff members are being treated with antibiotics because of contact with a Johns Hopkins University professor who died there Sunday from a rare meningococcal infection, and several people who worked closely with her at the school also are taking the medication, hospital and university officials said yesterday.

Nancy Ellen Forgione, a visiting assistant professor in the art history and master of liberal arts programs at the Hopkins Homewood campus, was admitted to St. Joseph on Saturday morning.

Those who came into contact with her before she was placed in respiratory isolation have been administered antibiotics, said Dr. Charles Haile, an infectious disease specialist who treated her.

Haile said Forgione, 54, died of a bloodstream infection. Symptoms of the meningococcus bacteria that caused the infection include rashes and headaches, and people who had "intimate contact, very close exposure" with Forgione should see a doctor, he said.

In a notice to the Hopkins community Saturday, university officials urged faculty and students who "have had direct exposure to Professor Forgione's secretions, through such means as sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, or who had sustained and continuous face-to-face contact with her for a minimum of four hours since Nov. 19," to seek medical attention.

About a dozen members of the Hopkins community inquired about treatment, said university spokesman Dennis O'Shea. Three or four began a regimen of antibiotics - "people who worked with her in one way or another," had not reported feeling sick but wanted to seek treatment as a precaution, O'Shea said.

He declined to say whether any were students, who are much more susceptible to spreading the disease because they often live in close quarters with other students.

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