Outbreak Cases by Region
Since June 2022, there have been 30 confirmed cases of meningococcal disease associated with this outbreak, including 6 deaths.† A common risk factor has not been determined; however, genetic sequencing of available specimens has confirmed the cases are highly genetically related.
* The following local health districts have had at least one outbreak-associated case of meningococcal disease reported: Alleghany, Fairfax, Hampton, Henrico, Norfolk, Peninsula, Pittsylvania/Danville, Portsmouth, Roanoke, Southside, Virginia Beach, Western Tidewater
† As of: 11/6/23, Data are updated monthly (first Tuesday). Data are preliminary and subject to change. VDH uses whole genome sequencing to confirm outbreak-associated cases. The results are available about 30-60 days after CDC receives the specimen. Cases are defined using the national meningococcal disease case definition.
What You Should Do
The meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) can provide protection against Neisseria meningitidis serogroup Y. VDH encourages parents and healthcare providers to ensure adolescents and teens receive the meningococcal conjugate vaccine on schedule at 11-12 years of age, with a booster dose at 16. Contact your local health department if you have questions about your options for accessing the MenACWY vaccine.
People at increased risk for meningococcal disease should make sure they are up to date on the MenACWY vaccine.
- People with HIV.
- Anyone whose spleen is damaged or removed, including people with sickle cell disease.
- Anyone with an immune condition called "complement deficiency" or anyone taking a type of drug called a "complement inhibitor" (for example, Soliris® or Ultomiris®).
What is meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease is a rare, but serious illness caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. People spread meningococcal bacteria to other people by sharing respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit). An infected person can spread the bacteria by kissing, coughing or sneezing directly into the face of others, or sharing cups, water bottles, eating utensils, cigarettes, lipstick, or toothbrushes. People do not catch the bacteria through casual contact or by breathing air where someone with meningococcal disease has been.
Most people exposed to this bacteria do not become ill. A small proportion of infected people can develop a serious form of illness, such as meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) or a bloodstream infection (septicemia). Symptoms can first appear flu-like and quickly become more severe.
You should not delay seeking care if you experience the following symptoms:
- Meningitis: sudden fever, headache, stiff neck, and light sensitivity.
- Bloodstream infection: sudden fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Symptoms can differ in infants and may include:
- Inactivity, irritability, vomiting, poor feeding, or a bulging soft spot on their head.
Page last updated November 6, 2023.