Macon County Public Health officials are alerting locals to a deadly meningitis outbreak currently occurring. Two deaths have been reported in the last three weeks and one of these deaths has been confirmed as a result of Neisseria meningitidis. The second case is suspected Neisseria meningitidis and is yet to be confirmed.
Meningococcal disease is a dangerous illness caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. The disease can sometimes cause infections in the bloodstream. It also causes meningitis, which is the dangerous infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms can include fever, vomiting, headache, and a general feeling of unwellness. Limb pain, pale skin, and cold hands and feet, along with a rash, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights, and confusion are all signs that can indicate meningitis. Quite often, the disease occurs quickly and results in death. Because of this, the warning has been issued in Macon County so that people can be aware of early warning signs.
According to WYFF4 Greenville, preventive antibiotics are being given pre-emptively to those who may have come in contact with the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. Macon County Public Health (MCPH) are also working together with the NC Division of Public Health to contain the outbreak.
WLOS has reported that health officials have also stated that due to privacy laws, further details pertaining to the victims cannot yet be released. However, Macon County School district officials have confirmed that the deaths are not of school-aged children.
Ahead of the debate over vaccine hesitancy, Meningococcal vaccination is suggested at 11, 12, and 17 years of age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also suggests adults who fall into the following categories also receive further vaccinations.
- Have a rare type of disorder (complement component deficiency)
- Are taking a medicine called Soliris®
- Have a damaged spleen or their spleen has been removed
- Have HIV
- Are a microbiologist who is routinely exposed to Neisseria meningitidis
- Are traveling to or residing in countries in which the disease is common
- Are part of a population identified to be at increased risk because of a serogroup A, C, W, or Y meningococcal disease outbreak
- Are not up to date with this vaccine and are a first-year college student living in a residence hall
- Are a military recruit
However, they also warn that those with a life-threatening allergic reaction or have a severe allergy, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or are feeling unwell at the time should not receive the vaccination.
It is also recommended that adults and children use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after touching their face to help stop the spread of meningitis.
Those who live in Macon County and have questions or suspect they may have come in contact with someone who has meningitis are urged to contact the health department at 828-349-2517.