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ISDH urges immediate reporting of suspected Neisseria meningitidis cases
e-Reports, Jan. 13, 2014
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If you have patients who present with Neisseria meningitidis, Indiana health officials urge you to report it IMMEDIATELY to your local health department.

“In recent months, two cases of Neisseria meningitidis were not reported until the last day of the chemoprophylaxis period for case contacts,” said Joan Duwve, M.D., chief medical officer for the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). “This poses a serious threat to the health of the community and a burden on local public health officials who must evaluate contacts and determine if they need chemoprophylaxis.”

Patients infected with Neisseria meningitidis are contagious for seven days prior to onset of symptoms. The risk that a close contact will develop secondary disease is highest during the first few days following onset of disease in the infected person, which makes it important to administer chemoprophylaxis as soon as possible. Chemoprophylaxis given more than 14 days after the last exposure to the case patient is probably of little benefit.

Since Nov. 21, 2013, 14 cases of meningococcal disease have been reported in Indiana. Eight of those cases were serogroup B, which is not covered in the MCV4 vaccine or in any vaccine currently available in the U.S. The number of vaccine-covered cases has decreased by more than 50 percent since 2010 when all 6th through 12th graders were required to receive the MCV4 vaccine, with no cases reported in school-aged children.

Early notification of suspected or confirmed cases of Neisseria meningitidis is important to prevent the spread of this dangerous disease.

Bloodstream or central nervous system infections with Neisseria meningitidis are serious infections that progress rapidly, often resulting in deafness, mental retardation, limb amputation or death.

The disease can be spread by any activity with exposure to saliva, such as kissing or sharing drinks or food. Infections have the potential to cause outbreaks, especially to others living in close proximity to the infected person. Fortunately, antibiotics provide effective early prophylaxis of close contacts.

A suspect case is defined as clinical purpura fulminans in the absence of a positive blood culture or gram negative diplococci not yet identified, isolated from a normally sterile site.

Read more about meningococcal disease including the Princeton Outbreak at the CDC website. For questions or more information about meningitis, contact Tina Feaster.

Find a list of all reportable communicable diseases and when to report here. Find the ISDH reporting form at in.gov.

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