Bacterial Infection With Unusual, Serious Symptoms Prompts CDC Warning

A bacterial infection is appearing nationally with unusual and serious symptoms according to federal authorities.

Neisseria meningitidis bacteria

Neisseria meningitidis bacteria

Photo Credit: CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just issued a Health Alert warning that the rare illness, caused by a strain of Neisseria meningitidis bacteria, has a higher fatality rate than normally seen with meningococcal infections.

As of Monday, March 25, 143 cases have been reported to CDC for the current calendar year, an increase of 62 cases over the 81 reported as of this date in 2023. 

Cases caused by this strain are disproportionately occurring in people ages 30 to 60 years (about 65 percent), which is noteworthy because meningitis infections usually affect babies, adolescents, and young adults the most.

Symptoms of meningitis may include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, photophobia, or altered mental status.

Symptoms of meningococcal bloodstream infection may include fever and chills, fatigue, vomiting, cold hands and feet, severe aches and pains, rapid breathing, diarrhea, or, in later stages, a dark purple rash.

While symptoms of meningococcal disease can at first be nonspecific, they worsen rapidly, and the disease can become life-threatening within hours.

According to the CDC, members of the public should:

  • Seek medical attention immediately if you or your child develops symptoms of meningococcal disease:
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about meningococcal vaccines that may be recommended for you and your household or family members, including any recommended booster doses.

The CDC says healthcare providers should:

  • Have a heightened suspicion for meningococcal disease, particularly among populations disproportionately affected by the current increase, 
  • Be aware that patients may present without symptoms typical of meningitis, 
  • Ensure that all people recommended for meningococcal vaccination, including people with HIV, are up to date for meningococcal vaccines.

For more info, view the Health Alert from the CDC here.

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