Bacterial infection killed SW DeKalb High grad at University of Oregon

A University of Oregon freshman from Georgia died of a contagious bacterial infection, health officials in Oregon announced Friday.

Lauren Jones, an 18-year-old Southwest DeKalb High School graduate, had meningococcemia, a rare but sometimes deadly ailment.

The announcement was made at a news conference, the Register-Guard in Eugene reported.

Jones, who was on Oregon's national champion acrobatics and tumbling team, died suddenly Tuesday, just hours after she began feeling ill and paramedics were called to her dorm.

The swiftness of her death after symptoms first appeared baffled those who knew Jones as elite athlete who also played tennis and performed in the band at Southwest DeKalb, where she starred in gymnastics and competitive cheerleading.

Jones was the fourth confirmed case of the bacterial infection that has sickened students since January, the Register-Guard reported.

The university plans to offer vaccinations to protect all of its students against meningococcemia and related diseases, it said.

The bacteria are spread through respiratory and throat secretions, and people living in close quarters, such as dorms, are susceptible to contracting the disease.