Understanding Meningococcal Disease: Symptoms to Watch for Amid CDC Warning of Bacterial Infection Spike

Understanding Meningococcal Disease: Symptoms to Watch for Amid CDC Warning of Bacterial Infection Spike

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning about a concerning rise in cases of meningococcal disease, a rare bacterial illness that can lead to meningitis. The increase in cases of invasive meningococcal disease, mostly due to a specific strain of bacteria, has health officials on high alert.

Last year marked the highest number of cases in the United States since 2014, with 422 reported cases. As of March 25 this year, there have already been 143 reported cases, putting 2023 on track to surpass last year’s numbers. Cases of meningococcal disease are more common in adults ages 30 to 60, Black individuals, and those with HIV.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease include fever, headache, and a stiff neck. This disease can progress rapidly and be deadly within hours, as it can cause a bloodstream infection. The bacteria is typically transmitted through respiratory and throat secretions and close contact with an infected individual.

While antibiotics can be used to treat the infection, quick treatment is essential. Approximately 10% to 15% of infected individuals die from the disease, and survivors may suffer from long-term issues. Vaccines are available and recommended for all children, as well as individuals at higher risk. Booster doses are also recommended as vaccine protection can fade over time.

Teens may receive the MenB vaccine at 16-18 years old, and individuals in areas with outbreaks or certain health conditions are advised to get vaccinated. The CDC stresses the importance of being proactive in protecting against meningococcal disease to prevent further spread of this dangerous illness.

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