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Meningitis cases linked to World Scout Jamboree

Last Updated Aug 17, 2015 4:48 PM EDT

Health officials are investigating several cases of meningitis that may be linked to the 2015 World Scout Jamboree, a global gathering of 30,000 scouts from around the world which was held July 28 to Aug. 8 in Kirara-hama, Japan.

The Swedish Public Health Agency on Monday said one Swedish participant was likely to have contracted the disease at the event. Two other cases were under investigation. Sweden's health authority is urging nearly 2,000 scouts to get preventive medical treatment, even if they're not feeling sick.

Three cases of meningitis have also been reported in scouts who returned home to Scotland. The Scotsman newspaper reports officials from Health Protection Scotland are contacting others who traveled with the group and advising them to take antibiotics as a precaution.

Scouts from 161 countries registered to attend this year's World Scout Jamboree, including a contingent from the Boy Scouts of America. In a statement provided to CBS News, the Boy Scouts of America said there have been no reports of anyone associated with the U.S. group contracting meningitis.

"This type of meningitis is typically covered by U.S. recommendations for pre-teen vaccinations," the statement noted. "We are communicating with the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and sending an informational note to all participants, parents of participants and staff today to let them know about the situation and to direct them to the CDC's site for additional information on meningococcal meningitis for more information."

Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord that most commonly affects children and teenagers. The CDC says the bacteria only spreads through close contact, not through the air like a cold or the flu.

The CDC says symptoms generally develop within 3 to 7 days after exposure, and may include a sudden onset of fever, headache and a stiff neck. Some patients also experience nausea, vomiting, mental confusion and an increased sensitivity to light.

Anyone who suspects they may be developing meningitis should seek medical attention right away. The illness can progress rapidly and in some cases leads to serious complications including brain damage or hearing loss.

About 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis, including 500 deaths, are reported each year in the United States.