3 people diagnosed with meningitis in North Dakota

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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota health officials say three people have been diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis in the past couple of months.

The North Dakota Department of Health said Saturday that two of those cases have been confirmed by laboratory testing.

Meningococcal meningitis is rare in North Dakota and in the United States. Before this year, the last cases reported in North Dakota were in 2014.

Meningococcal meningitis is a severe infection of the bloodstream and the thin lining covering the brain and spinal cord caused by bacteria.

The bacteria are spread by sharing saliva or spit, and it usually takes close contact such as coughing or kissing or lengthy contact to spread the bacteria.

Symptoms include fever along with a severe headache, stiff neck or a rash.

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