Open Accessibility Menu

Meningococcal Disease and Immunization Reminder

  • Posted On:
Meningococcal Disease and Immunization Reminder

WHAT: Bacterial meningococcal disease is a serious illness that can cause meningitis and infection of the blood. Even when treated, meningococcal disease kills 10% of the people infected. Of those who survive, about 10-20% will suffer disabilities such as hearing loss, brain damage, kidney damage, loss of limbs, and/or nervous system problems.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease include nausea, fever, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, confusion, tiredness, severe aches/pain, cold hands and feet, a dark purple rash, rapid breathing, and/or photophobia. In the presence of these symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical care immediately.

WHY NOW & WHEN: Between November 2022 and February 2023, nine cases of invasive meningococcal disease have been reported in Iowa. Cases are clustered in the eastern part of the state and span a wide area. However, these cases have been found to be genetically linked, which means there have been connections between the individual cases in some form or fashion through a community outbreak.

WHO: Anyone can get meningococcal disease. Babies, teens, and young adults have higher rates of meningococcal disease than people of other ages do. Other factors, such as certain medical conditions that affect the immune system or a community outbreak of meningococcal disease also present an increased risk of disease. Additional risk factors include traveling to or living in parts of the world where meningococcal disease is common, living in a college dorm, or anyone whose spleen is removed or damaged.

HOW: meningococcal disease is spread through person-to-person contact by coughing, sneezing, kissing, or sharing eating utensils. The incubation period has a range of 2-10 days. Because this disease progresses quickly, it is important to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

PREVENTION: Children 11-12 years of age should be routinely immunized to prevent the most common strains of meningococcal disease. A boost dose should be administered at 16 years of age to provide protection between 16-23 years of age when people are most at risk. Teens and young adults can also be protected against the B strain of meningococcal disease at 16 years of age with a boost dose at least one month later.

Myrtue Medical Center’s Rural Health Clinic and Public Health Department want to remind parents of adolescents to seek prevention through available immunizations. Please call 712.755.4444 (Clinic) or 712.755.4422 (Public Health) for more information, to ask for a review of immunizations, or to schedule an appointment for your child.