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Why Meningitis Can Be Life Threatening: CDC Reports Rise in Bacterial Infections

Why Meningitis can be Life Threatening if not Treated Quickly

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an alert to healthcare providers about bacterial infections as a strain of the meningococcal disease begins to circulate within the United States.

What is Meningococcal Disease?

Meningococcal disease is an illness caused by a bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. It can lead to severe symptoms, including meningitis, which is the inflammation of the brain and spinal cord lining, and septicemia, a bloodstream infection.

The Recent Alert by CDC

The CDC alert highlights the emergence of a variant of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup Y, which has already caused 140 reported cases in 2024. Unlike typical meningitis cases in infants and young adults, this strain predominantly affects adults aged 30 to 60, with higher risks for Black or African Americans and individuals with HIV.

Types of Meningococcal Disease

There are six known serogroups of meningococcal disease: A, B, C, W, X, and Y. The serogroups present in the United States are B, C, W, and Y.

Increased Cases of Serogroup Y

The CDC reports that the highest number of meningococcal disease cases caused by serogroup Y occurred in 2023, with 422 cases.

Virginia’s Statewide Outbreak

The state of Virginia is currently experiencing a statewide outbreak of meningococcal disease caused by serogroup Y. The outbreak, which started in June 2022, has resulted in 35 confirmed cases, including 6 deaths.

Symptoms of Meningitis

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Photophobia
  • Altered mental status

Symptoms of Meningococcal Bloodstream Infection

  • Cold hands and feet
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever and chills
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid breathing
  • Severe aches and pains
  • Vomiting

In advanced stages of the infection, a dark purple rash may appear.

For additional information and preventive measures, refer to the linked prevention guidelines.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice. Please consult a healthcare provider for any medical concerns.

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