TAMPA, FLA (WFLA) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports Florida is seeing the worst Meningococcal outbreak in U.S history.

According to the CDC, there have been 26 cases and seven deaths from the disease in Florida. Twenty-four of those cases are among men who have sex with men. Data shows about half of the cases associated with the Serogroup C outbreak are among Hispanic men.

The bacteria infects the lining of the brain and spinal cord and causes swelling according to Tampa General Hospital’s Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. David Wein.

Symptoms of meningococcal illness are:

  • Fever
  • Stiff Neck
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Altered mental status (confusion)

People experiencing those symptoms are asked to seek medical attention right away as the illness can be fatal.

“It can be a contagious infection, and we may see some increase in these cases,” Dr. Wein said.