NBC Chicago reports a rise in meningococcal disease prompting concern from Chicago officials

The Alarming Rise in Meningococcal Disease Cases in Chicago: Health Officials Urge Vaccination and Symptom Awareness

Chicago public health officials have issued a warning about an increase in cases of meningococcal disease, a rare but serious bacterial infection that affects the lining of the brain and spinal cord as well as the bloodstream. Meningitis is one form of this disease.

The Chicago Department of Public Health has reported eight cases of meningococcal disease in 2024 so far, compared to seven cases in 2023. This is a significant increase from the one to three cases per year reported from 2017 to 2022. The health alert posted online by CDPH mentioned that out of the 15 cases reported from 2023-2024, nine were aged 30-60 and eight were Black, non-Hispanic individuals.

CDPH Commissioner Olusimbo ‘Simbo’ Ige urged everyone to stay informed about the disease and highlighted the severity of the outcomes associated with meningococcal disease. It is essential to keep up to date with recommended vaccines as they offer the best protection against this deadly disease. In Illinois, there is a required vaccine against meningococcal disease, with the first dose given at ages 11-12 and a booster dose required at age 16. Parents and caregivers are strongly encouraged to ensure that their children receive the vaccine according to the recommended schedule.

CDPH is reminding everyone to be aware of the symptoms associated with meningococcal disease as they can vary depending on the specific type of infection. These symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, altered mental status, fatigue, cold hands and feet, severe aches and pains, diarrhea, rapid breathing, and a dark purple rash. While initial symptoms may resemble the flu, meningococcal disease can rapidly escalate and become life-threatening within a short period of time. It’s important for anyone experiencing these symptoms to seek medical attention immediately.

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