The North Dakota Department of Health says three people have been diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis in the past couple of months, two have been confirmed by laboratory testing.
It’s rare in North Dakota and the United States. And, prior to 2019, the last cases were reported in 2014.
Meningococcal meningitis is a severe infection of the bloodstream and meninges, or the thin lining covering the brain and spinal cord.
Meningococcal bacteria is spread by the sharing of saliva. Generally, it takes close or lengthy contact (like coughing or kissing) to spread these bacteria.
The Health Department says, fortunately, they are not as contagious as germs that cause the common cold or flu.
Symptoms include a fever along with either a severe headache, stiff neck or a rash. People experiencing these are urged to contact their doctor.
Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to prevent meningococcal meningitis in the first place. Maintaining healthy habits, like hand washing, getting plenty of rest, and not having close contact with people who are sick, also helps with prevention.