STUDENTS are to be treated with antibiotics after a popular 21-year-old from Sunderland University died from suspected meningitis.
Friends of Christopher McKee have been offered treatment after tests indicated a meningococcal infection may have led to his death.
Christopher was found by flatmates 10 days ago.
Friends who shared the six-bedroom flat with Christopher at The Forge, Neville Road, Pallion, are being offered antibiotics as a precaution, along with anyone who came into close contact with the sports journalism student.
A file has been passed to Sunderland’s Coroner Derek Winter and post mortem examinations began last week.
A University of Sunderland spokesperson said: “We have been informed that the meningococcal infection may have been involved in Christopher McKee’s death on March 26.
“We are all deeply saddened by Christopher’s death and have been offering our support to his family, friends and students.
“He was an intelligent student
who had a bright future ahead of him and it is tragic that his life has been cut short.
“We are working closely with the HPA and liaising with staff and students to offer any advice and guidance from our specialist Health and Wellbeing team, while the coroner investigates the case.
“The HPA stresses that meningococcal bacteria do not spread easily.
“Only people who have had prolonged, close contact with the person are at a slightly increased riskl.
“These people are being identified and offered antibiotic treatment as a precaution.
“It is not necessary for any other students and staff to be given antibiotics as a result of this possible case.
“Our Health and Wellbeing team continuously works with the HPA to ensure our students get access to the most up-to-date healthcare advice.
“Throughout the academic year the team promotes awareness of meningitis, but raises the profile especially during the first term.”
Every year, the university encourages new students to check their MMR and meningitis vaccination status before arriving on campus and obtain the relevant vaccine from their GP.
GPs in Sunderland also offer vaccinations to new students.
Dr Tricia Cresswell, of the HPA, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the student.
“This is a tragic case which reminds us what a devastating illness this can be.
“The crucial thing is being able to recognise the signs and symptoms and to get treatment as soon as possible.
“But even with early recognition sadly it is not always possible to stop the rapid progress of this disease.
“All appropriate measures are already being taken and we are working closely with the university and the coroner.”
Graeme Thompson, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at Sunderland University, said: “Christopher had a bright future ahead of him. He will be sadly missed by all that knew him.”