FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 19, 2016
Kotzebue, AK – This past Saturday, there was one case of invasive meningococcal disease suspected in Kotzebue. It takes two days to definitely identify and confirm the bacteria by culture; final results confirming the diagnosis were received on Sunday evening. Meningococcal disease is a rare but serious bacterial disease that can rapidly cause serious even fatal illness. Fortunately, this illness is seen very rarely, with less than 5 cases per year in Alaska.
Close contacts to a person with this disease are at some increased risk to develop illness. The risk is still extremely low, but antibiotic treatment is recommended for close contacts such as household members and other persons directly exposed to the patient’s oral secretions. Persons without close contact are not at increased risk and do not need preventative antibiotic treatment. Casual contact, such as being in the same classroom, workplace, or sitting at the same table with an infected person is not usually considered “close contact.”
Symptoms of this disease may include acute onset of high fever, rash, severe headache, nausea, stiff neck, or any other unusual symptoms. In some cases, meningococcal disease may progress very rapidly and lead to severe illness and even death. Even though you have not been in close contact, if you or your child should develop any of these symptoms during this next week, please go to Maniilaq Health Center’s Emergency Room immediately, where you or your child can be evaluated and receive prompt medical care.
If you have any questions, please contact Public Health Nursing at 907-442-7144. We are currently receiving a high volume of calls; if we are unable to answer please leave a message and we will return your call as soon as possible.
Due to confidentiality requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, we are unable to disclose the private health information relating to this specific patient. We will do our best to answer questions in accordance with the law.