City Health Dept.'s Meningococcal Vaccination Drive Ended Sunday

Mon. October 27, 2003 12:00 AM

CDPH: 14,627 People Protected Against Disease

Chicago, IL - The city's successful vaccination drive ended Sunday, October 26, with 14,267 people protected against potentially deadly meningococcal disease, Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) officials reported.

The number of recently-identified cases of meningococcal disease on the city's North Side remains at six, three of whom have died.

"By many measures, this vaccination drive has been a big success," stated CDPH Commissioner John Wilhelm, M.D. "We detected cases of illness early, we investigated quickly and ensured antibiotic treatment for close contacts of those who were ill, and we mobilized and deployed our staff and other resources swiftly - - so we were ready to spring into action once lab results indicated that the cases of illness were caused by a strain of bacteria that could be prevented by vaccine.

"Our goal was and is to confront, control and eliminate this outbreak in its earliest stage. We remain vigilant for any further evidence of meningococcal disease, and we will take swift and appropriate action should any appear."

"Several days ago, I thanked the many segments of the community for their invaluable enthusiasm and support for this effort to protect the public health," Dr. Wilhelm added. "I also thanked Health Department employees, from administrators to front-line staff and everyone in between, for showing exemplary dedication and professionalism under challenging circumstances.

"Today, as we wrap up this successful effort, I want to thank Mayor Daley for his ongoing support of public health in general, and specifically for his assistance in this instance. The key City Hall administrators he dispatched to assist us helped greatly with the nuts and bolts logistics of mounting an effort like this, and with mustering community support for this life-saving initiative."

Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis that can be rapidly fatal if not treated with antibiotics. It happens in two forms: meningitis and bloodstream infection.

The bacteria that cause meningococcal disease first infect the inside of a person's throat and nose, but most often cause no symptoms at all. In fact, 5 to 10 percent of all people may carry Neisseria meningitidis in their noses at any given time without becoming ill. In a small percentage of people carrying the bacteria, the bacteria pass into the bloodstream, causing illness. These illnesses almost always occur within 4 days of having been exposed to the bacteria, but sometimes it can take as long as 10 days for symptoms to develop.

Meningococcal disease usually starts with a sudden onset of fever and severe headache. A stiff neck may also develop, and rash often occurs. Nausea and vomiting sometimes occur as well, but may not be a sign of meningococcal disease unless the other described symptoms are also present. Immediate medical treatment is needed for meningococcal disease—the condition can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

News Story: (10/18) Chicago Issues Meningitis Alert To Gays After Three Die

Chicago Department of Public Health -