02/09/2015 09:35 EST | Updated 04/11/2015 05:59 EDT

Nova Scotia officials confirm university student who died had meningitis B

HALIFAX - A university student in Nova Scotia who died after becoming rapidly ill had an increasingly common strain of bacterial meningitis, health officials said Monday.

Dr. Robert Strang, the chief public health officer, said the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg determined that the young woman had the B strain of the meningococcal disease.

Strang said the finding allows them to provide the right vaccine to the woman's contacts, many of whom had received preventative antibiotics after her death.

"This will give them longer term protection," he said.

None of the people who were determined to be close contacts have shown any signs of illness linked to meningitis, he added.

The woman was taken on Jan. 31 to the emergency department at the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville near Wolfville where she was studying at Acadia University.

The university said in a statement that Sarah Hastings of Cambridge, Ont., was a first-year student in the Manning School of Business Administration.

Strang said at the time that she was already in critical condition and died the following day in hospital, despite being given antibiotics.

He said it's not clear how she contracted the disease, but that people can be carriers before becoming ill.

The finding also rules out any link to the death of a Halifax high school student, who had the Y strain of meningitis.

Strang said meningococcal B is becoming more common than the C strain since people are being vaccinated against the latter. He said Nova Scotia is looking at adding the B vaccination to its publicly funded program for people with certain conditions that might put them more at risk.

"It's always an issue about making the case within governments for funding," he said.