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HomeLifestyleSurge in bacterial disease in the US: All about it

Surge in bacterial disease in the US: All about it

01/6​US CDC warns of rise in bacterial disease​

An increase in the number of cases of a bacterial disease has worried health experts in the US. A total of 143 cases of the disease have been reported so far. The disease, caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis commonly affects the brain, spinal cord and bloodstream. Meningococcal disease as it is referred to is a serious bacterial infection that affects people aged 30–60 years, African American people, and people with HIV, the US CDC has warned. In this disease, the meninges, or the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord is infected. The bacterium can multiply aggressively and lead to septicemia.

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02/6​Why are health experts worried?​

Four of the six meningococcal bacteria groups – A, B, C, W, X, and Y – circulate in the United States, according to the CDC, with vaccines available against all except the X group. The US CDC has also warned that patients may present with bloodstream or joint infection and without symptoms typical of meningitis, which include fever, headache, and stiff neck. In 2023, 422 confirmed and probable meningococcal disease cases were reported in the US, which is the largest number of U.S. meningococcal disease cases reported since 2014.

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03/6​How to identify meningococcal disease?​

The most common symptoms of the disease are fever, headache and stiffneck. These signs are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, photophobia or sensitivity of the eyes to light, and altered mental status. “Newborns and babies may not have the classic symptoms listed above, or it may be difficult to notice those symptoms in babies. Instead, babies may be slow or inactive, irritable, vomiting, feeding poorly, or have a bulging anterior fontanelle (the soft spot of the skull). In young children, doctors may also look at the child’s reflexes for signs of meningitis,” the US CDC says quoting the US National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

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04/6​Meningococcal disease spreads through respiratory and throat secretions​

The bacteria is spread from an unhealthy individual to a healthy individual through saliva or spit. Physical contact through coughing or kissing helps spread the disease. If you have someone in the household with the disease you are at a higher risk of getting the disease. People do not catch the bacteria through casual contact or by breathing air where someone with meningococcal disease has been.

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05/6​Is meningococcal disease common in India?​

As per a review study, published in 2021, In India, Neisseria meningitidis is the third most common cause of acute bacterial meningitis (ABM) in children <5 years, and accounts for an estimated 1.9% of all ABM cases regardless of age. The disease remains endemic in India, with major outbreaks reported in Delhi (2005-08), Meghalaya (2008-09), and Tripura (2009) over the last 25 years. Twelve serotypes of N. meningitidis have been identified, of which, 6 (A, B, C, W, X, and Y) have been associated with disease outbreak, the review study of publications on meningococcal disease in India between 1996 and 2020 found.

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06/6​How to stay safe?​

The best way to prevent the disease is to get vaccinated. Close contacts of a person with meningococcal disease should receive antibiotics to prevent them from getting sick, US CDC suggests. “Although rare, people can get meningococcal disease more than once. A previous infection will not offer lifelong protection from future infections. Therefore, CDC recommends meningococcal vaccines for all preteens and teens. In certain situations, children and adults should also get meningococcal vaccines,” the agency recommends.

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