Oregon Public Broadcasting

Health Authorities in Crook County say a recent jump in meningococcal infections is now officially being considered an "outbreak" by the Centers for Disease Control.  The determination was made after testing revealed recent cases were all of the same variety.

Crook county health authorities say they've confirmed 6 cases in the last 11 months. 

Meningococcal disease is caused by a common bacteria that's spread through coughs and sneezes.  Most of time, people exposed to this bug won't get sick.  But in rare cases the bacteria can cause a type of meningitis, as well as a severe infection in the blood stream.

Muriel DeLaVergne-Brown is Crook County's Public Heath Director.  She says there are things you can do to lower your chances of getting sick - like hand washing, giving up smoking and not drinking out of a shared glass.  But she says the best way to prevent the disease is through vaccination.

Typically, the meningococcal vaccine is recommended for kids ages 11 to 18.  

But in light of the outbreak, DeLaVergne-Brown says health authorities in the area are broadening that recommendation to cover kids aged 9 months to 25 years old.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.