Second Missouri Southern athlete diagnosed with meningitis

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A second baseball player is being treated for the same meningitis believed to have killed a teammate at Missouri Southern, but officials say nobody else had reported symptoms as of Friday.

The second player was not identified by university officials, citing medical privacy laws. Health officials in Joplin, where the university is located, said the young man was responding well to medical treatment.

The player was among a group of 15 to 20 people at increased risk of infection because of their association with Danny Sickles, the Missouri Southern pitcher who died Saturday at his off-campus apartment. An autopsy found that Sickles, 20, died of bacterial meningitis.

The second student's infection is believed to be a result of contact with Sickles, said Ryan Talken, epidemiology coordinator for the Joplin City Health Department.

As a result of the second positive test, the health department added a few people, mainly teammates and coaches, to the risk group.

Those people are receiving antibiotics and information about the disease and its symptoms.

Meningitis is a viral or bacterial infection of the fluid surrounding the spinal cord and brain. Of the two forms, bacterial meningitis is more severe. If it is not diagnosed early, the infected person can die within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.

Health officials said people in close contact who would run a risk of infection include those living in the same household and people who share drinks or eating utensils.

Casual contact such as being in the same room with an ill individual would not constitute a risk, health officials said.