Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) today issued a health advisory involving two cases of young children diagnosed with meningococcal disease. All individuals who are known to have been in close contact with these two cases have been identified and received antibiotics as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of further infection.
Meningococcal disease is an infectious disease that is caused by a bacterial infection. Both cases have been associated with day care centers specializing in serving children who have experienced homelessness, however it is not currently known if the two cases are connected. The last date that either case was at one of the day care centers was October 18th and no secondary cases have been identified at this time.
The disease is spread from person to person through saliva, requiring close contact with infected individuals. Time from exposure to developing symptoms is between one to 10 days, and usually less than four days. Symptoms develop rapidly and include nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, and altered mental status or confusion.
Meningococcal disease has become less common in recent years, with between 10 to 15 reported cases statewide each year. There are several different forms of meningococcal disease, including infection of the blood and infection of the brain and spinal cord, known as meningitis. Early detection and initiation of antibiotics for suspected meningococcal disease is critically important.
There are safe and effective vaccines available to prevent infection from the most common forms of meningococcal disease and residents are encouraged to speak with their health care provider about vaccination options.
Any resident with questions about meningococcal disease should call BPHC at (617) 534-5611. Fact sheets are also available at bphc.org in English, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese.