updated 12/31/2003 10:36:55 AM ET 2003-12-31T15:36:55

A 65-year-old woman is New Hampshire’s sixth confirmed case of bacterial meningitis, health officials said.

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State Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen said officials are investigating whom the woman had contact with.

She was in good to fair condition at a Manchester hospital, and Stephen said the case was diagnosed early. He declined to give her name or say what town she is from, other than to say she lives in the Manchester area.

An 18-year-old woman died from meningitis during the weekend and four other New Hampshire teens were diagnosed with it. Meningitis causes sometimes fatal swelling of the brain and spinal cord.

Despite the rash of cases, officials said the state still has not had an unusually high number of meningitis cases this year.

No known link with other cases
Stephen said that so far there is no known link between the woman’s case and the others.

Earlier this week, officials announced that the strain of bacteria that killed the 18-year-old Bennington woman is not related to the strain contracted by two Keene-area teenagers.

Meningitis is an infection of the brain, spinal cord and spinal fluid, and causes swelling of the brain. Depending on the bacteria involved, only some forms of bacterial meningitis are contagious.

The symptoms of meningitis, which causes the brain to swell, can appear similar to the flu, including headache, fever and nausea.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 15 percent of meningitis cases are fatal.

Earlier this week hospitals across New Hampshire were being warned Monday to be “hyper-vigilant” in recognizing cases of bacterial meningitis after five teens were hospitalized with symptoms of the disease and one of them died from it.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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