Public health officials are investigating a Los Angeles County case of meningococcal infection, a bacteria-caused illness that can lead to potentially deadly meningitis.
Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said Thursday that this was a "very serious" case but was unsure of the patient's ultimate condition. "Whether this is an outbreak, single case, whatever, we don't know at this point," Fielding said. Several tests will be done to determine the particular imprint of this strain, which is not a new one.
There are "apparently some similarities" to an especially deadly strain found recently in New York that has resulted in 22 cases, including seven fatalities since 2010. "But it's not identical," Fielding said. More tests need to be done to see if they are related.
The outbreak in New York City involved a strain "circulating among men who have sex with men (MSM) and may be transmitted during intimate encounters, including sex," officials with the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported. "Typically, in meningitis outbreaks, about 1 out of 5 people die. With this outbreak among MSM, we're seeing about 1 out of 3 people die."