CDC issues alert on rare bacterial infection with uncommon symptoms

Health officials are alerting doctors to be on the lookout for certain types of rare, serious meningococcal infections that are on the rise in the United States.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a new health alert that these infections, which are caused by a certain strain of Neisseria meningitidis bacteria, may present with unusual symptoms. In the cases identified so far this year, about 1 in 6 people have died, a higher fatality rate than they typically see with meningococcal infections.

These cases are also unusual because they are striking middle-aged adults. Typically, meningitis infections strike babies or adolescents and young adults.

The CDC’s alert comes after the Virginia Department of Health warned about five deathsfrom the same rare, serious form of meningococcal disease in September.

Meningococcal disease refers to any sickness caused by Neisseria meningitidis. The infection can lead to both meningitis and a serious infection of the bloodstream called septicemia, or blood poisoning.

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