Ithaca College student dies after brief mystery illness

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ITHACA, N.Y. — Officials at Ithaca College say a student from New Jersey has died after a brief illness and health authorities are trying to determine the cause of death.

The college released a statement Wednesday that said Shannon Sakosits of Mahwah, New Jersey, had died. She was a junior integrated marketing communications major.

The statement said the college’s Hammond Health Center, Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca and the Tompkins County and New York state health departments are trying to determine the cause of death.

College officials are asking anyone who may have been in contact with Sakosits between Oct. 28 and this past Monday to contact health officials to determine if they should receive preventive antibiotics.

Benjamin Rifkin, Provost and Vice President for Educational Affairs released a statement:

With profound sadness, I write to inform you of the death of junior Shannon Sakosits, an Integrated Marketing Communications major, after a brief illness.

I know the entire campus community, and specifically the Roy H. Park School of Communications faculty, staff and students, joins me in extending our heartfelt prayers and deepest sympathies to Shannon’s family, friends, classmates and professors at this difficult time. Shannon is from Mahwah, New Jersey.

The Ithaca College Hammond Health Center and Cayuga Medical Center are working closely with the Tompkins County and New York State Departments of Health to determine the cause of death. To date, preliminary testing has not indicated a bacterial infection as the cause of Shannon’s illness.

Out of an abundance of caution, anyone from the college community who shared drinking containers or eating utensils; exchanged oral secretions with Shannon (e.g., kissing, sharing cigarettes); or had any similar exposure between October 28 and November 9 should contact the Hammond Health Center to determine if they should receive preventive antibiotics. The Health Center has set up a dedicated hotline to answer questions and provide information at 607-274-7128. Casual contact, as might occur in a classroom or lecture hall setting, does not constitute direct, close contact, and antibiotics would not be needed.

Friends and classmates are invited to gather together tomorrow night, November 12, beginning at 7 p.m. in Muller Chapel to support one another, with assistance from counselors and chaplains. At any time, students can contact the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services for additional support at 607-274-3136.

Information about any memorial services will be shared with the campus community as it becomes available.

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