The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) reports that there have been eight cases of meningococcal disease confirmed this year, including one death. Recent cases serve as reminder of the importance of preventing this serious infectious disease. Public Health reminds residents, especially those with increased risk, to stay up-to-date on the recommended meningococcal vaccine to help prevent invasive meningococcal disease (IMD).
For the most recent person with IMD, who is a teenager, Public Health is conducting an investigation and working with affected communities to identify close contacts who will be provided preventive antibiotics and vaccination. The ages of the 2017 cases range from 12-75 years old, including several recent cases among teenagers. The majority of cases this year are caused by meningococci identified as “serogroup B.” In 2016, a total of 20 IMD cases occurred among Los Angeles County residents with the majority of cases caused by serogroup C.
“Staying current with vaccination recommendations is important to help protect against serious diseases such as invasive meningococcal disease,” said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Interim Health Officer for Los Angeles County. “Meningococcal vaccination is recommended for all children ages 11-12 with a second dose of vaccine at 16 years old. In addition, all persons who are HIV positive, college students, workers in medical labs, all gay or bisexual men (men who have sex with men), and all persons older than 2 months with certain medical conditions that make them less able to fight off disease are recommended for vaccination.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all preteens and teens be vaccinated against meningococcus A, C, W and Y (Menactra or Menveo). A second type of vaccine (Bexsero and Trumenba) is available which adds protection against serogroup B.
Contact your health care provider for information about meningococcal vaccine. If you have had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis, please contact Public Health at (310) 998-3204 on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on weekdays during normal business hours.
IMD is spread by direct contact with the secretions of someone who carries the meningococcal bacteria in their nose or throat. Limiting activities that spread saliva, can decrease the risk of infection. Don’t share drinks, utensils, food, or toothbrushes. Don’t have multiple kissing partners. Don’t share things you smoke, like cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, pipes and hookahs. In addition, good hygiene including frequent handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes can help reduce risk of this and other infectious diseases.
Public Health clinics provide vaccines for all people at higher-risk for IMD, regardless of health insurance status. Those who do not have a regular health care provider or health insurance that covers vaccines can call the LA County Information Line at 2-1-1 for referrals to providers offering vaccines at no-cost or a reduced cost.
Meningococcal disease is a rare, but serious disease that can lead to swelling in the brain and spinal cord, loss of a limb, deafness, brain damage or even death. Meningococcal disease is caused by a type of bacteria known as Neisseria meningitidis. The illness most people are familiar with is meningitis. It can be spread to others through the respiratory secretions of people who carry the bacteria without symptoms in their nose and throat. Meningococcal disease can start with flu-like symptoms, and progress to high fever, headache, stiff neck, confusion and rash. People who experience these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.
For more information about meningococcal disease and immunization recommendations visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/mening.htm, www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/ip, and www.shotsforschool.org
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of over 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health comprises nearly 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $900 million. To learn more about the Department of Public Health and the work we do, please visit PublicHealth.LACounty.gov.
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