Meningococcal Disease Outbreak in Virginia

Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Since June 2022, there have been 27 confirmed cases of Meningococcal Disease across Virginia and 5 deaths, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Dr. Laurie Forlano, State epidemiologist with the Virginia Department of Health said this is a rare disease that can lead to Meningitis or Sepsis.

“Cases have been reported from the eastern region, central region, and southwest region of Virginia since the outbreak began last year,” said Dr. Forlano.

Dr. Forlano said while this is a low risk to the general public, it is important to be aware, especially for people who may be at risk for developing a serious illness.

" In the beginning of the illness symptoms that can be common to other illnesses like fever and headache. Those symptoms tend to progress. Severe headache, vomiting, nausea, high fever. With Septicemia later in the illness sometimes one can have a dark rash. With Meningitis some people feel stiffness in their neck,” said Dr. Forlano.

Dr. Forlano said there is a vaccine recommended for adolescents and people with compromised immune systems.

" Meningococcal Disease in many ways is a vaccine-preventable disease. There are different types of Meningococcal Disease, and you can be protected against some with a vaccine,” said Dr. Forlano.

Dr. Forlano said if you are experiencing symptoms to seek medical care quickly.

”We thought it was important to raise awareness and really ensure people understand what is evolving over time even though the risk in general remains low,” said Dr. Forlano.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, there are no reported cases in the northwest and northern regions of Virginia.