Campus announces student passing; health concerns cited

A SUNY Oswego student passed away this morning after an illness. President Deborah F. Stanley sent the following urgent message to students:

It is with great sadness that I inform you that one of our students fell ill and passed away at 9:05 a.m. this morning. Craig Schiesser was a freshman from Westbury, N.Y., who resided in Oneida Hall. Late in the morning we learned that his death resulted from a suspected case of meningococcal disease. Because of the seriousness of this situation, we are sending this announcement.

The Oswego County and New York State Departments of Health recommend that we respond as if the disease were bacterial meningitis. Bacterial meningitis is transmitted by contact with saliva. Preventative treatment is available. Our staff is contacting those we know were in very close contact with Craig in the past 10 days to advise them to seek treatment.

Most people who become infected simply carry the organism harmlessly, without illness, and eliminate in from the nose and throat within a short time by developing natural immunity.

Close contact includes drinking from the victim’s cup or bottle, sharing cigarettes or smoking materials, sharing lipstick or chapstick, sharing a toothbrush, kissing, sharing food items or being sneezed or coughed on. If you have been in close contact with Craig Schiesser in the past 10 days, you should seek health care at your primary care provider or Walker Health Center on campus—from 1 to 5 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday or noon to 2 p.m. Sunday—to receive a preventative medication.

Meningitis is NOT food borne. Meningitis in NOT spread by casual contact such as simply being with an ill person in class, in a residence hall or at a social gathering.

Symptoms are flu-like and include stiff neck, headache, mental confusion and red or purple rash. If you develop such symptoms, please seek immediate medical treatment from your health care provider or emergency room.

More information about meningitis is available at the New York State Department of Health Web site:
More information is also available from the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3547 (or after hours 315-341-0086 and ask for a nursing supervisor).

This is a very difficult time for our entire campus community. Our thoughts are with Craig’s family, friends and loved ones. Our priority now is preventative action for the health and safety of our campus community.

For more information, visit the Walker Health Center meningitis FAQ page.

(Posted: Mar 14, 2008)