The Bacteria That Cause Meningitis Are Once Again Spreading, The CDP warns

The Bacteria That Cause Meningitis Are Once Again Spreading, The CDP warns

Health care providers are being warned by the federal government to be on the lookout for invasive meningococcal disease. This is a rare but potentially fatal sickness that has become more common in recent years and needs to be treated right away with antibiotics to avoid permanent disability or death.

By the Numbers: The number of deaths is going up

A bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis infects the person and makes them sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that 422 cases of invasive meningococcal disease were reported in the US in 2017. This is the most cases since 2014 and the highest number since records began.

On the other hand, 143 cases have been reported to the C.D.C. so far this year, which is 62 more than the same time last year.

The illness is very dangerous. Ten to fifteen percent of people who get meningococcal disease will die, even with the right care. A unique type of N. meningitidis called ST-1466 has been linked to a lot of recent cases. Out of 94 patients whose results are known, 17 died from this strain. That’s an 18% death rate.

People who have survived meningococcal disease may have long-term disabilities, such as hearing loss, amputations, or brain damage.

The Mystery: Why are there outbreaks?

Most of the people who got sick during the latest outbreaks were black adults between the ages of 30 and 60.

Individuals who have had their spleens removed, people with sickle cell disease, and people with certain rare immune conditions are also vulnerable to the infection. These groups make up 15% of cases.

Teenagers and people with health problems like HIV should get a meningitis vaccine that protects against four of the six types of N. meningitidis, including group Y, which includes ST-1466. The vaccine has not been given to most older people.

So far, 35 people have gotten meningococcal disease and six have died in Virginia since the summer of 2022. The state’s doctor, Dr. Laurie Forlano, said that public health officials have not found a link between the cases and deaths that would explain the outbreak.

“We always look for that one set of risk factors that everyone has,” Dr. Forlano said. “Were they all at the same party or family event?” Were they all at the same place? Are there any social networks they use together? That’s not true in this case.”

The disease isn’t passed from person to person, but it is through activities that expose people to saliva or secretions from the nose or throat, like kissing or sharing food and drinks or smokes.

A Ticking Clock: Medical care needs to start right away.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord that can be caused by the illness. Typical signs include fever, headaches, stiff neck, vomiting, being sensitive to light, and having a change in mental state.

The bacteria can also get into the bloodstream, which can lead to sepsis. This seems to be the most common outcome in the present serogroup Y cases. People who have this illness often feel very tired, throw up, have fevers and chills, have terrible aches and pains, diarrhea, fast breathing, and in the later stages, get a dark purple rash.

In just a few hours, symptoms may get worse very quickly and become life-threatening. Antibiotics need to be given right away.

Dr. Forlano said, “When people hear the word meningococcal disease, they think of meningitis, which is a very scary disease.” “But what we want to get across to the clinical community is that these cases look different from what we normally see.” “Hey, take a look at this.”

She did stress, though, that the sickness is still very rare, despite the risk. She said, “The threat to most people is low.”

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