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Meningitis kills Bentley freshman, 18

A first-year Bentley College student died from bacterial meningitis in New York yesterday, Bentley officials said.

Erin Ortiz, 18, was visiting her family in New Hampton, N.Y., when she was hospitalized at Westchester Medical Center. Bentley Student Health Services received news of Ortiz's illness late Sunday afternoon from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and immediately began notifying those who were in close contact with Ortiz, advising them to take prophylactic antibiotics, Bentley spokeswoman Michele Walsh said.

Bacterial meningitis is passed through close contact, including kissing and sharing food.

Bentley officials have notified students about Ortiz's illness and are encouraging anyone with symptoms to seek medical attention.

Last year, Massachusetts recorded 21 cases of bacterial meningitis.

"Erin had a wide circle of friends and was loved greatly," Bentley vice president Kathleen Yorkis said in an e-mail to the Bentley community. "This loss affects all of us. In this time of grief, we can honor Erin's memory by reaching out to those around us and taking care of each other."

MARC ROBBINS

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