Officials seek close contacts of Squirrel Hill meningitis victim

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People who came into "close contact" with a Squirrel Hill man who died from bacterial meningitis are being urged to contact the Allegheny County Health Department to determine whether they should take medicine as a precaution.

Dr. Ron Voorhees, acting director of the Health Department, said that Joseph Christopher Cecchini, 29, also known as Joe Christopher, died on Wednesday from meningococcal meningitis. Health officials are particularly interested in speaking to people who had "close contact" with Mr. Cecchini, the president and publisher of Cue magazine, between Aug. 24 and Wednesday.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that officials there also sent out a warning because Mr. Cecchini was in the area last weekend.

Bacterial meningitis does not spread as easily as the common cold or flu. "Even from 3 feet away, there is almost no risk," Dr. Voorhees said.

"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 preventative antibiotics are needed," the doctor said.

If meningitis is caught early, it can often be treated, Dr. Voorhees said. Mr. Cecchini died in UPMC Mercy less than 24 hours after he sought treatment.

Visitation for Mr. Cecchini will be held at the Jaycox-Jaworski Funeral Home, 2703 O'Neil Blvd., McKeesport, from 4 to 8 p.m. today and 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

A funeral will be held at the funeral home at 11 a.m. Monday and entombment will follow at the New St. Joseph Cemetery mausoleum in North Versailles.

Anyone who had close contact with Mr. Cecchini is asked to call 412-687-2243.

neigh_city - health

Liz Navratil: or 412-263-1438.


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