The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reports that there have been eight cases of meningococcal disease confirmed this year through March, including one death.

 Gram-negative Neisseria meningitidis diplococcal bacteria/CDC
Gram-negative Neisseria meningitidis diplococcal bacteria/CDC

Health officials remind residents, especially those with increased risk, to stay up-to-date on the recommended meningococcal vaccine to help prevent invasive meningococcal disease (IMD).

For the most recent person with IMD, who is a teenager, Public Health is conducting an investigation and working with affected communities to identify close contacts who will be provided preventive antibiotics and vaccination. The ages of the 2017 cases range from 12-75 years old, including several recent cases among teenagers. The majority of cases this year are caused by meningococci identified as “serogroup B.” In 2016, a total of 20 IMD cases occurred among Los Angeles County residents with the majority of cases caused by serogroup C.

“Staying current with vaccination recommendations is important to help protect against serious diseases such as invasive meningococcal disease,” said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Interim Health Officer for Los Angeles County. “Meningococcal vaccination is recommended for all children ages 11-12 with a second dose of vaccine at 16 years old. In addition, all persons who are HIV positive, college students, workers in medical labs, all gay or bisexual men (men who have sex with men), and all persons older than 2 months with certain medical conditions that make them less able to fight off disease are recommended for vaccination.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all preteens and teens be vaccinated against meningococcus A, C, W and Y (Menactra or Menveo). A second type of vaccine (Bexsero and Trumenba) is available which adds protection against serogroup B.

Contact your health care provider for information about meningococcal vaccine. If you have had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis, please contact Public Health at (310) 998- 3204 on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.,( April 1 and April 2) and on weekdays during normal business hours.

IMD is spread by direct contact with the secretions of someone who carries the meningococcal bacteria in their nose or throat. Limiting activities that spread saliva, can decrease the risk of infection. Don’t share drinks, utensils, food, or toothbrushes. Don’t have multiple kissing partners. Don’t share things you smoke, like cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, pipes and hookahs. In addition, good hygiene including frequent handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes can help reduce risk of this and other infectious diseases.