While this isn't quite the same as the brain-eating amoeba headline we shared in July of this year, it's definitely not something to be taken lightly for the folks here in Iowa.

According to the Des Moines Register, "State public health officials say 'multiple cases' of meningococcal disease have been detected in Iowa in recent weeks."

The bacteria that cause the disease most frequently lead to meningitis -- an infection and inflammation of the fluid and membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord -- both of which can be deadly.

Per the Iowa Department of Public Health, "Meningococcal disease is an illness caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis which causes inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord (the meninges) resulting in meningitis. N. meningitidis can also infect the blood causing meningococcemia, or the lungs which causes pneumonia."

The site continues, saying that between 2012 and 2021, Iowa had just 22 cases total, including just one in 2020 and 2021. The case high in one year over that time frame came in 2015 when five people came down with the illness.

There are three clear symptoms for someone who may have the disease. Fever, headache, and stiff neck -- much of which are similar to flu symptoms. The symptoms most frequently develop three-to-four days after exposure.

The bacterium that causes the disease is "not as contagious as the common cold or influenza but it can be spread by simply breathing the same air where an infected person has been. The disease typically spreads among people through the exchange of saliva and other respiratory secretions through activities such as kissing, coughing, and chewing on toys."

The IDPH says the best way to prevent getting the disease is to remain up-to-date on vaccinations that prevent the disease. Treatment for the disease often involves hospitalization and intravenous administration of antibiotics.

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