UO student death: Meningococcemia possible cause

Lauren jones was a member of the school's acrobatics and tumbling team

UO athlete Lauren Jones unexpectedly passed away Tuesday. February 17, 2015 (University of Oregon)
UO athlete Lauren Jones unexpectedly passed away Tuesday. February 17, 2015 (University of Oregon)

EUGENE, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A University of Oregon student athlete unexpectedly died Tuesday after requiring medical attention, school officials said they are looking at meningococcemia as a possible cause.

Freshman Lauren Jones, 18, was a member of the university’s acrobatics and tumbling team.

“This is a terrible and sudden loss for our whole Oregon community, as well as our acrobatics and tumbling team family,” UO acrobatics and tumbling head coach Chelsea Shaw said in a release. “Lauren was such a positive and bright spirit every day, and her smile was contagious. She will be greatly missed.”

The cause of Jones’ death has not been confirmed. The university is notifying residence hall students and student athletes about a prophylactic medication option as a preventative step, a school official said. It is not clear if her death was caused by a bacterial infection that surfaced at the university.

“What we know is that she was displaying flu-like symptoms ahead of time,” Jason Davis with Lane County Health Department told KOIN 6 News.

County health officials completed their initial autopsy Wednesday morning.

“They did find some things that would lead our chief health officer to at least preliminarily suspect meningococcemia,” Davis said.

Health center employees at the university told KOIN 6 News they received more visits from people wanting vaccinations and antibiotics Wednesday.

Davis said 200 students living in close proximity to Jones were given antibiotics, and the school reached out to student athletes who may have had contact with her.

“Honestly, it’s a very serious situation where we have an illness that’s communicable, that can be spread and it’s claiming lives,” Davis said. “We treat that with the utmost importance.”

KOIN 6 News will provide updates to this story as they become available.

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