Deadly bacteria outbreak spreads in Virginia – Here’s what to know

September 1, 2023 by No Comments

Virginia is currently grappling with an outbreak of meningococcal disease, an infrequent yet potentially life-threatening ailment. So far, 27 cases have been confirmed, with 5 deaths resulting from this.

Recognizable symptoms (as outlined by the Virginia Department of Health) include:

  • Elevated body temperature (fever)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A rigid or stiff neck
  • Intense headache
  • Mental confusion
  • Heightened sensitivity to light

To contain the transmission of this disease, it is recommended that individuals:

  • Avoid sharing personal items, such as vapes, lipsticks, or toothbrushes.
  • Maintain proper hand hygiene.
  • Steer clear of close contact with individuals displaying signs of sickness.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if experiencing any symptoms indicative of meningococcal disease.
  • Ensure that adolescents and teenagers adhere to the recommended schedule for receiving the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY), typically administered at 11 or 12 years of age, with a booster dose at 15-16 years of age.
  • Consult with a healthcare provider if there is an elevated risk of contracting meningococcal disease, in order to confirm that the MenACWY vaccine is up-to-date.

What is Meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease is a potentially severe bacterial infection caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. It can lead to meningitis (inflammation of the protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord) and sepsis (a bloodstream infection). The disease can progress rapidly and can be life-threatening, making early diagnosis and treatment crucial. Vaccines are available to prevent certain strains of meningococcal disease.

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