Rise in Meningococcal Disease Cases: CDC Alerts Health Care Providers

By iMedix
Updated 2024-04-01 15:13:04 | Published 2024-04-01 14:58:30
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Rise in Meningococcal Disease Cases

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently alerted health care professionals about an increase in cases of meningococcal disease, a serious bacterial infection, in the United States.

Caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria, meningococcal disease can lead to severe health issues, including fatal infections. The disease can manifest as meningitis, affecting the brain and spinal cord lining, or enter the bloodstream.

In its latest update, the CDC highlights an uptick in the Neisseria meningitidis serogroup Y strain, with 140 reported cases in 2024. While meningitis often impacts infants and young adults, this particular strain is more prevalent in adults aged 30 to 60, particularly among Black and African American individuals and those with HIV.

The U.S. primarily sees four of the six known meningitis serogroups: B, C, W, and Y. Notably, serogroup Y accounted for 422 cases in 2023, marking the highest incidence since 2014.

Virginia is currently experiencing a significant outbreak of serogroup Y meningococcal disease. The Virginia Department of Health reports 35 confirmed cases linked to the outbreak since June 2022, including six fatalities.

Meningococcal disease can result in two types of infections: meningococcal meningitis, affecting the brain and spinal cord, and meningococcal septicemia (meningococcemia), a bloodstream infection.

Key symptoms to watch for include:

For meningitis:

  • High fever
  • Headaches
  • Neck stiffness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Confusion or altered mental state

For meningococcal bloodstream infection:

  • Cold extremities
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever and chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Rapid breathing
  • Intense body aches
  • Vomiting

Patients in advanced stages may develop a distinctive dark purple rash.

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