Health advisory issued after 2 young kids diagnosed with meningococcal disease

BOSTON (WHDH) – City officials have issued a health advisory after two young children in Boston were diagnosed with meningococcal disease — an infectious disease that is caused by a bacterial infection.

In a statement Wednesday, Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Public Health Commission issued an advisory, though they noted all individuals who are known to have been in contact with the kids have been identified and received antibiotics as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of further infection.

Both cases have been associated with Horizons for Homeless Children daycare centers specializing in serving children who have experienced homelessness — thought it’s unclear if the two cases are connected.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Horizons for Homeless Children said, “Boston Public Health Commission has made us aware that two of our students, from separate locations, have been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. We do not know if these cases are related, but we are working closely with BPHC and have taken all recommended precautions to protect our students and staff at these locations. At this point, we would defer inquiries to BPHC.”

The last date that either of the children were at one of the daycare centers was Oct. 18 and no secondary cases have been identified.

Health officials say the disease is spread from person to person through saliva, requiring close contact with infected individuals. Time from exposure to developing symptoms is between one to 10 days.

Symptoms develop rapidly and include nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, and altered mental status or confusion.

Meningococcal disease has become less common in recent years, with between 10 to 15 reported cases statewide each year. There are several different forms of meningococcal disease, including infection of the blood and infection of the brain and spinal cord, known as meningitis.

Early detection and initiation of antibiotics for suspected meningococcal disease is critically important.

There are safe and effective vaccines available to prevent infection from the most common forms of meningococcal disease and residents are encouraged to speak with their health care provider about vaccination options.

Any resident with questions about meningococcal disease can call BPHC at (617) 534-5611.

This is a developing news story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest details.