Rare infection that largely affects middle-aged adults on rise: CDC

The CDC is warning an invasive meningococcal strain is on the rise and disproportionately affects people ages 30 to 60.

The Health Alert Network health Advisory, issued March 28, warned that there have been 143 cases of meningococcal disease in 2024, mainly attributable to Neisseria meningitidis serogroup Y. It is an increase of 62 cases over the reported numbers in 2023 in the same period.

In 2023, 422 cases were reported, which was the highest number of cases in a single year since 2014.

"Healthcare providers should 1) have a heightened suspicion for meningococcal disease, particularly among populations disproportionately affected by the current increase, 2) be aware that patients may present without symptoms typical of meningitis, and 3) ensure that all people recommended for meningococcal vaccination, including people with HIV, are up to date for meningococcal vaccines," the CDC said.

Here are three things for providers to know:

  • Cases caused by this strain disproportionately occur in people 30 to 60 years old (65%), Black people (63%) and people with HIV (15%).

  • Most cases caused by this strain had a clinical presentation other than meningitis — 64% presented with bacteremia and at least 4% presented with septic arthritis.

  • Of 94 patients with known outcomes, 18% died, which is a higher case-fatality rate than historical rates for this strain. Between 2017 and 2021, the serogroup Y cases had an 11% case-fatality rate.

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