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National Experts Warn Doctors: 2 Old-School Sicknesses Are on a Perplexing Rise

Posted by Triple Naturals I On Apr 02, 2024
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There are reasons both are part of a standard routine vaccine regimen—but experts say they're seeing strains behave in never-before-seen patterns.

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On March 28, 2024, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued warnings about two contagious illnesses that are circulating at concerning levels in the U.S. This follows the recent advisories about upticks in measles cases.

Both tuberculosis (TB) and invasive meningococcal disease, also known as meningitis, have reached decade-long highs after decreasing during the pandemic. While both are still relatively rare, it’s said more Americans are contracting these serious and potentially transmissible conditions than in recent years. This has prompted the CDC to sound the alarm to healthcare providers and the public.

One particular strain of invasive meningitis, which is a potentially life-threatening infection affecting the lining of the brain and spinal cord, appears to be behind the rapid jump in cases. The CDC’s emergency alert issued via the Health Alert Network (HAN) urges healthcare providers to be aware of the increase in diagnoses.

What’s reported as especially concerning is that the strain responsible appears to have a higher fatality rate than normal, 18% versus the common 10% to 15%. 2023 saw the largest number of annual cases of the disease since 2014, and the rate at which the disease is being diagnosed for 2024 exceeds the number compared to the same timeframe last year. Reported counts are 422 total cases for all of 2023, and 143 to date for 2024.

This strain of meningitis, Neisseria meningitidis serogroup Y, also appears to have a few symptoms that aren’t traditionally seen with invasive meningitis. Experts say typically, patients with the condition have the trademark stiff neck, high fever, headache, and sensitivity to light. This strain appears to present with a blood infection or septic arthritis instead.


Swift treatment with antibiotics is essential to avoid amputations or potential deafness meningitis can cause. The CDC is urging all people who qualify to get the necessary vaccinations to protect against meningitis. The strain appears to affect men, Black or African American people, and those living with HIV more than other groups.

Tuberculosis, a bacteria-caused lung condition often called “TB,” is also causing concern among experts because the CDC says rates in 2023 were the highest seen in a decade. Rates of tuberculosis have increased across all age groups and several areas of the country, but a few states have higher rates than others with California, Texas, New York, and Florida having reported the greatest numbers of infections. Overall, 9,615 cases of TB were diagnosed in the country last year.

While rates of TB are still significantly lower in the U.S. than in many other parts of the world, it’s said they have been increasing since 2020. “This post-pandemic increase in U.S. cases highlights the importance of continuing to engage communities with higher TB rates and their medical providers in TB elimination efforts,” says the CDC.

TB can be contagious and spreads through droplets in the air. It typically presents with a persistent cough that may produce mucus with blood, accompanied by chest pain, fever, and fatigue.

While TB was once a deadly disease, the American Lung Association says it can now often be treated with a rigorous six-month course of antibiotics. 

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The CDC assures that tuberculosis risk to the general public is generally low and notes that some infections are attributed to latent tuberculosis that reactivates. “Sustained transmission of TB in the United States leading to outbreaks is uncommon,” says the agency. Quick detection and treatment have also helped to keep the illness at bay and reduce community transmission. 

Staying up-to-date on routine vaccinations, washing hands frequently, paying close to attention to symptoms and staying home when you’re sick or wearing a mask when you can’t avoid going out are all ways to minimize the chances of contracting or spreading many transmissible illnesses.

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