Allegheny County Health Department officials issued a rare public health notice Friday following the bacterial meningitis death of a Squirrel Hill resident.
Joseph Christopher Cecchini, 29, died from meningococcal meningitis on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, according to Dr. Ron Voorhees, acting director of the Allegheny County Health Department. Cecchini, who also went by the name Joe Christopher, worked and lived in Pittsburgh and was the president and publisher of Cue magazine.
“We want to make sure that people who have had close contact with Mr. Cecchini between Aug. 24 and Sept. 5 take precautions and get antibiotics to prevent the onset of symptoms," Voorhees said. "They also should seek care promptly if they become ill.
“People who were in close contact with Mr. Cecchini while he was coughing or sneezing, or who kissed or shared food, beverage or cigarettes with him should contact the health department to determine whether preventive antibiotics are needed.”
The bacteria that cause meningitis are not as contagious as the flu or common cold. Bacterial meningitis is spread through saliva or respiratory secretions, or “respiratory-droplet spread.” Symptoms of bacterial meningitis include a sudden fever, stiff neck, rash, vomiting, headache and fatigue.
“Bacterial meningitis is not spread by just being in the same room with someone who is ill from meningitis,” Voorhees said. “The bacteria do not survive long outside the body. You cannot become sick by simply touching surfaces that the ill person touched.”
Family, friends, medical personnel and co-workers have been notified and close contacts in those settings have already been offered preventive antibiotics.
Health department officials encourage those who may have been in close contact with Cecchini to phone 412-687-ACHD (2243) to be assessed as to whether preventive antibiotics should be prescribed.