CDC Warns Rare but Deadly Bacterial Infection is On the Rise


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The CDC has issued an alert regarding a type of bacterial infection that can lead to meningitis. Maskot/Getty Images
  • The CDC issued a health news alert announcing the increase of invasive meningococcal disease cases in the US.
  • Symptoms caused by this strain included fevers, chills, rapid breathing, dizziness or a joint infection.
  • Experts said healthcare providers should be on the lookout for symptoms that could be consistent with meningitis, bloodstream infection or septic arthritis.

The CDC recently released a health advisory last week alerting the public of an increase in invasive meningococcal disease in the US. Health officials are attributing this increase to a specific type of bacteria.

The bacteria is called Neisseria meningitidis. The specific type of this bacteria is the serogroup Y strain, called ST-1466.

This strain is predominantly occurring in people ages 30–60 years (65%), Black or African American people (63%), and people with HIV (15%).

The CDC reported the highest number of annual cases of invasive meningococcal disease occurred in 2023 with 422 cases. They estimate that in 2024 the cases will continue to increase.

The majority of invasive meningococcal disease cases caused by ST-1466 in 2023 showed symptoms other than meningitis, including bacteremia or bacteria in the blood and septic arthritis, an infection in the joints.

“Invasive meningococcal disease is a rare infection but can be quite serious when it occurs. Usually, even if patients get the correct antibiotic treatment right away, about 10 to 15% of people die,” said Dr. Marcus Pereira, assistant clinical professor of medicine and infectious disease specialist at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “The mortality with this particular strain unfortunately has been about 18% so hence the heightened concern.”

It’s dangerous due to its rapid onset and potentially severe symptoms, experts explain.https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/why-teslas-car-deliveries-were-a-disaster-for-elon-musk.html

“It can lead to meningitis, sepsis, damage of the blood vessels, and sometimes even death if not treated promptly. The disease can progress quickly and cause serious complications, making early recognition and treatment crucial,” Hannah Newman, MPH, senior director of infection prevention at Northwell Lenox Hill Hospital, stated.

The infection most commonly associated with the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis is meningitis. According to Pereira, this condition presents itself with symptoms such as:

  • Headache
  • Fevers
  • Confusion
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea
  • Hypersensitivity to bright lights and noises

However, it is important to note that “most of the cases caused by this particular strain, ST-1466, had infections other than meningitis including a bloodstream infection,” Pereira explained.

This included fevers, chills, rapid breathing, dizziness or a joint infection, also known as septic arthritis, usually presenting with painful or swollen joints.

“Even with treatment, this is a deadly disease so it is important to seek care if symptoms suggestive of meningitis develop. This can include fever, stiff neck, headaches, and change in mentation to note a few. The symptoms can progress to life-threatening very quickly, so early antibiotics are critical,” said Dr. Scott Roberts, assistant professor and associate medical director of infection prevention at Yale School of Medicine.

Meningococcus generally spreads from person to person through close contact, particularly with the exchange of respiratory and throat droplets.

“This usually happens via coughing, sneezing, living in same household and kissing. Several epidemiology groups are investigating the causes for this particular increase in cases since 2023,” said Pereira. “As of now, it is not known what is leading to a rise in cases of this particular strain.”

There seems to be an epidemiological link in certain groups.

“The rise in cases appears to be epidemiologically associated with certain groups, where there are disproportionate increases,” Roberts stated. “These include people aged 30-60, Black or African American people, and people with HIV. It is likely the strain is circulating in higher numbers in certain communities, which may account for the increase.”

Experts stress that eligible individuals should be vaccinated against meningococcal disease. This includes all 11-12 year olds, with the booster dose at age 16 as well as adults at increased risk due to medical conditions (for example HIV).

Newman noted: “A considerable portion of cases in the current outbreak occurred in individuals who were not up to date with vaccine recommendations, emphasizing the critical need for vaccination efforts, especially within vulnerable, high-risk groups.”

Regarding those who are most at risk, it’s important to understand that Neisseria meningitidis can infect anyone, but a person’s risk can vary based on age, medical conditions, medications, and where they work, live, or travel, Newman explained.

“Certain factors can increase the risk for acquiring the illness, including infants, adolescents, people living in congregate settings (like dormitories), people with weakened immune systems or HIV, complement component deficiencies and medications treating them, and those traveling to areas where meningococcal disease is endemic,” said Newman.

“Healthcare providers should maintain a high suspicion for meningitis when symptoms suggestive of meningitis occur and antibiotics with adequate central nervous system penetration should be started as soon as possible,” said Roberts.

Pereira agreed that healthcare providers should be on the lookout for symptoms that could be consistent with meningitis, bloodstream infection or septic arthritis.

“If there is a reasonable concern, cultures should be obtained and antibiotics should be started promptly. Luckily, this particular strain has been found to be susceptible to all first-line antibiotics that are usually recommended for invasive meningococcal disease,” Pereira noted.

There has been an increase of invasive meningococcal disease cases in the US, according to a health news alert issued by the CDC.

The rise in cases is due to a specific bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. This strain of bacteria involved is the serogroup Y strain, called ST-1466, health officials reported.

Symptoms of strain include fevers, chills, rapid breathing, dizziness or a joint infection, also known as septic arthritis, usually presenting with painful or swollen joints.

Healthcare providers should be on the lookout for symptoms that could be consistent with meningitis, bloodstream infection or septic arthritis, experts recommended.



Source link : https://www.healthline.com/health-news/cdc-issues-alert-for-rare-bacterial-infection-that-can-cause-fatal-meningitis

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Publish date : 2024-04-02 21:35:14

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