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Bacterial infection possible in University of Oregon student's death

EUGENE, Ore. -- Public health officials are trying to figure out if a contagious bacterial infection caused the death Tuesday of a University of Oregon freshman.

CBS affiliate KVAL-TV reported Lauren Jones, a member of the acrobatics and tumbling team, died "unexpectedly" Tuesday afternoon, according to the school.

University spokeswoman Julie Brown said the cause of Jones' death had not been confirmed, but told the Register-Guard newspaper meningococcemia "is one of the possibilities."

Since mid-January, at least three UO students have been hospitalized with meningococcemia, a contagious bacterial infection that can lead to meningitis, CBS affiliate KOIN-TV reported.

Brown said residence hall students and student athletes are being encouraged to take antibiotics in case they've been exposed to any bacterial infection.

Jason Davis, a spokesman for the Lane County Public Health Department, said an autopsy will be performed Wednesday to determine how Jones died and whether she had meningococcemia.

Acrobatics and tumbling head coach Chelsea Shaw called Jones' death "a terrible and sudden loss."

"Lauren was such a positive and bright spirit every day, and her smile was contagious," Shaw said in a statement. "She will be greatly missed and our prayers and deepest condolences go out to her whole family, friends, previous teammates and anyone else who had the opportunity to know Lauren."

Jones graduated in 2014 from Southwest Dekalb High School in Lithonia, Georgia, where she was the captain of the varsity gymnastics team. She was named the most valuable player in her senior year.

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