An Ithaca College student from New Jersey has died after a brief illness, and health officials are urging those who had close contact with the student to get in touch as they try to determine what caused the 21-year-old's death.
The college released a statement Wednesday announcing the death of Shannon Sakosits, of Mahwah, 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 Sakosits' cause of death. The university said preliminary testing has not indicated a bacterial infection caused her death.
"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," Benjamin Rifkin, provost and vice president for educational affairs, said in a statement.
Sakosits' brother, Ryan, said on Facebook his younger sister would be missed "every single second of every single day for the rest of our lives."
"We are so heart broken and it is so difficult to find words in such a dark time for our beautiful angel Shannon. You're our everything," Ryan Sakosits wrote. "Shannon, I can't believe you've left us physically but I know you'll be watching us in spirit. Your big brother Ryan loves you so much Shanny. I'd do anything to have you back my sweet girl."
The college is asking anyone who may have had close contact or shared drinking containers or eating utensils with Sakosits between Oct. 28 and this past Monday to contact health officials to determine if they should receive preventive antibiotics. Casual contact, like sitting in a lecture hall together, does not constitute close contact, the university said.
The Health Center set up a hotline to answer questions and provide information at 607-274-7128.