ABERDEEN TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — Officials said a high school student in New Jersey has died of bacterial meningitis.

Chris Dhume became sick Thursday night and died at Jersey Shore University Medical Center early Saturday.

Officials were trying to identify those who were in close contact with the 17-year-old Matawan Regional High School senior.

Monmouth County public health coordinator Michael Meddis told The Asbury Park Press meningitis bacteria are spread from person to person through saliva or other respiratory secretions.

Meddis said no one knows how the student contracted the illness.

School officials sanitized the building over the weekend as a precaution.

Last week, the New York City Health Department said six cases of meningitis have been reported in just the last month.

Dr. Don Weiss insisted it wasn’t an outbreak. “In the past four weeks we’ve seen six cases. We average four over that period. Last year we had two,” he told CBS 2’s John Metaxas.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reports

1010 WINS’ Al Jones with advice from Dr. Brian McDonough

Out of those six cases that were spread over four out of the city’s five boroughs, three people have died, including two Manhattan women, ages 22 and 28, and a 55-year-old Staten Island woman.

“The earlier we make a diagnosis, the better the outcome for the patient,” Weiss said.

A summary of the findings said: “Meningococcal disease is typically a disease of winter and spring… and though the current incidence is more than has been seen in comparable time periods in previous years, it is not entirely unusual.”

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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