Chicago health officials monitoring uptick in meningococcal disease cases

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) is closely monitoring an uptick in meningococcal disease cases in the city since January 2023, aligning with a nationwide trend.

In a health advisory prompted by the recent spike, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned about the severity of the rare but serious bacterial infection linked to meningitis and bloodstream infections.

While Chicago typically saw 1–3 cases annually from 2017-2022, the tally rose to seven in 2023 and eight so far in 2024, with four fatalities.

"We are monitoring this situation very closely and so far have identified no common exposure among Chicago cases," said CDPH Commissioner Olusimbo ‘Simbo’ Ige. "While cases remain very rare, we want people to be aware because the outcomes can be so severe. As with other illnesses such as COVID-19 and measles, keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best protection against meningococcal disease."

Nationally, since 2023, meningococcal disease has predominantly affected individuals aged 30–60 years (60%) and African American individuals (53%), with most cases presenting as bloodstream infections.

CDPH advises seeking immediate medical attention if symptoms such as fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, or a dark purple rash develop, emphasizing vaccination for adolescents and teens as a preventive measure.

More information on meningococcal disease can be found HERE.