CDC Warns of Increase in Rare Meningitis and Bloodstream Infections in the US

CDC Warns of Increase in Rare Meningitis and Bloodstream Infections in the US

Invasive Meningococcal Disease Cases on the Rise in the United States

In the United States, cases of invasive meningococcal disease have been steadily increasing, with 422 cases reported in 2023 – the highest annual rate since 2014. As of this week, already 143 cases have been reported in 2024, surpassing last year’s numbers at this time.

Invasive meningococcal disease is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis and can invade the nervous system or bloodstream. Certain demographics, such as infants, individuals with weakened immune systems, and those on specific medications, are more susceptible to infection. Up to 10% to 15% of affected patients die from the disease, with approximately 18% of patients last year having fatal outcomes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising doctors to have a heightened suspicion for meningococcal disease as a potential diagnosis and ensure that patients are up to date on vaccines. Children should receive the MenACWY vaccine at age 11 or 12, with a booster dose at 16. Some at-risk individuals may need regular doses of the vaccine.

Recent cases have been linked to a specific strain of N. meningitidis known as serogroup Y, which is covered by the MenACWY vaccine. Symptoms can vary, with some patients presenting with bloodstream infections or septic arthritis rather than meningitis. Immediate antibiotic treatment is crucial, as the condition can quickly become life-threatening.

While all samples of the ST-1466 strain respond to recommended antibiotics, some other strains of serogroup Y are resistant to certain treatments. Healthcare providers must remain vigilant in diagnosing and treating invasive meningococcal disease to prevent further spread and fatalities.

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