A 23-year-old Sonoma County man died Wednesday from a virulent case of meningitis officials believe he contracted over the weekend at the World Music Festival in Boonville.

?He probably picked it up at the fair,? said Mendocino County Public Health Officer Dr. Marvin Trotter.

The festival was attended by about 6,000 people, most of them from outside of the county.

The man had been healthy on Saturday, went to work on Monday, became ill on Tuesday and died Wednesday, he said.

?It is a very lethal form of meningitis,? he said.

Trotter is concerned others attending the festival may have been infected with the bacteria, which is spread by saliva.

?He did share marijuana joints with people,? Trotter said.

An estimated 20 percent of the population carries meningitis in their throats without themselves becoming ill, he said.

Anyone who becomes sick with severe headaches, fever and a purple rash should immediately seek medical care, Trotter said.

The identity of the man was not being released Thursday.

Sonoma County Public Health Department officials said Wednesday they had interviewed at least 25 people who had come in contact with the man since his return from Mendocino County. They said they did not believe there is any threat that the disease had been spread to others.

Glenda Anderson