US CDC Cautions the Healthcare Providers on the Surge in Meningococcal Disease

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On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an advisory to healthcare providers regarding a surge in invasive meningococcal disease and emphasized the importance of administering necessary vaccinations against this potentially deadly illness.

Meningococcal disease, stemming from the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, is a severe bacterial infection commonly affecting the brain, spinal cord, and bloodstream.

According to the CDC, there has been a notable increase in reported cases, with 143 cases recorded as of Monday compared to 81 cases during the same period last year. Last year, a total of 422 cases were documented, marking the highest annual figure since 2014.

The rise in infections is predominantly linked to a specific bacterial strain within the meningococcal group Y, the agency stated. This strain has disproportionately impacted individuals aged 30 to 60 years, African American individuals, and those with HIV. As such, healthcare providers are advised to maintain heightened vigilance for meningococcal disease within these demographics.

Furthermore, the CDC cautioned that patients may manifest with bloodstream or joint infections without exhibiting typical meningitis symptoms such as fever, headache, and stiff neck.

In the United States, four out of the six meningococcal bacteria groups – A, B, C, W, X, and Y – are in circulation, with vaccines available for all except group X. In October, Pfizer’s vaccine Penbraya received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), becoming the first vaccine to offer protection against five meningococcal bacteria groups.

Pfizer currently offers two vaccines to combat the disease: Trumenba, targeting the B group, and Nimenrix, safeguarding against the other four bacteria groups.

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