West Chester University student dies from meningitis

Sean Casey, a third-year student at West Chester University had died.

  • The health department confirmed the cause was a case of meningoccal meningitis, a disease that affects the brain.
  • Meningitis is deadly but can be treated with antibiotics if caught early.

A West Chester University student has died from bacterial meningitis.

The university said this morning that Sean Casey, a third-year student in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, had died.

The health department said it confirmed the case of meningoccal meningitis, a disease that affects the brain, on Tuesday.

"The loss of a student touches everyone on the campus, and I know that Sean and his family will be remembered in our thoughts and prayers in the days ahead," President Greg Weisenstein wrote in a message to the university community.

The disease spreads through close personal contact like kissing and sharing food or utensils. The health department and university have been contacting Casey's roommates and others who had been in close contact with him for preventative treatment.

Meningitis is deadly but can be treated with antibiotics if caught early.

Casey was in West Chester's honors program and was a member of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia musical fraternity and the Honors Student Association. He was the student director of the Sykes Union Building.

"Sean was an outstanding @WCUofPA student leader," Matthew Bricketto, director of the school's Division of Student Affairs, wrote on Twitter.

A candelight vigil for Casey will take place at Sykes at 6 p.m. today.

Casey had been admitted to West Chester Hospital on Sunday. From Friday to Sunday, he had been visiting Penn State for a conference.

Penn State said in a statement it was working to identifiy anyone in College Park who may have been exposed to the infection.

Students at both West Chester and Penn State who had close contact with Casey should get prophylactic antibiotics, the universities said. But anyone who only had routine contact, such as sitting near him in class, likely doesn't need antibiotics.

Pennsylvania law requires college students who live in dormitories or other campus housing to be vaccinated against meningitis, or sign a waiver saying they are not being vaccinated for religious or other reasons. West Chester's residential-housing agreement also includes those requirements.

Symptoms of meningitis include chills, fever, headache, stiff nick, vomiting and a rash. Symptoms can develop quickly or over several days, but typically appear three to seven days after exposure to the infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Anyone who believes they have symptoms of the disease should see a physician immediately.

Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.