Tests Confirm Initial Diagnosis in Death of WFU Student

The Student Health Service at Wake Forest University learned this morning that testing has confirmed that Wake Forest student Alexander Philip Gedicks died of meningococcemia, a bacterial infection.

A 19-year-old freshman from Orem, Utah, Gedicks died at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center Thursday night after a sudden illness. Student Health Service officials said at the time that Gedicks presumably died of meningococcemia. That initial diagnosis was confirmed by test results at the medical center.

“The Wake Forest community expresses its sympathy to Alexander Gedicks’ family and his friends at this tragic time,” said Sandra C. Boyette, vice president for university advancement.

A public memorial service for Gedicks will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16, in Wake Forest’s Wait Chapel.

Since Gedicks’ death, some members of the university community have been coming to the Student Health Service to take an antibiotic suggested for those who had close contact with the student in the past seven to 10 days. As of this morning, approximately 250 people had received the antibiotic, distributed as a single pill.

The Student Health Service has made the antibiotic available around-the-clock since Friday. Since the death, the Student Health Service has kept extra staff on duty to take calls and meet with those who have questions about meningococcemia, an infection of the bloodstream caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. The same bacteria can cause other illnesses, including meningitis, pneumonia or pharyngitis (sore throat).

No other case of the illness has been reported at the university, according to Student Health Service officials.

Wake Forest students began learning of Gedicks’ death almost immediately. University Student Life staff — including counselors and ministers — met Thursday night with students who lived in his residence hall and a neighboring residence hall.

On Friday morning, the university announced Gedicks’ death through voice mail and e-mail. Photocopied announcements were also delivered to students who live on campus and to all academic and administrative departments. In those messages, members of the university community were encouraged to come to the Student Health Service for an antibiotic if they had been in close contact with the student.

The messages noted that close contact means:

  • Roommate, suitemate or hallmate of the student.
  • Anyone who shared eating utensils or drinking glasses/cups with the student.
  • Anyone who spent more than four hours with the student in a close space.

Categories: Student, University Announcement