An unexpected increase in meningitis in Mexico has prompted San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) to alert local school officials.
Tijuana has reported at least 17 cases of meningococcal disease since Jan. 4 an official with HHSA confirmed to NBC 7 San Diego. There have been five deaths.
Patients in Tijuana ranged in age from a baby to 27-years old the official said.
While the agency is concerned about the uptick in cases in the border city, they say it has not been classified as an outbreak.
Last week, health officials reported two meningococcal cases in San Diego. A 39-year-old man died of the disease. A one-year-old child was hospitalized and recovered. The cases were unrelated and it's believed the patients had not traveled to Tijuana.
In a memo to school nurses, health officials warned them to keep an eye out for symptoms and to promote hand washing and vaccines for children 11 to 17 years old.
The bacteria can spread from close contact or behaviors such as kissing, sharing water bottles, cigarettes or drinking glasses.
Symptoms of meningococcal disease may include fever, intense headache, lethargy, stiff neck, and a rash that does not blanch under pressure according to the San Diego HHSA. Get more information on symptoms here
There were eight cases in San Diego in 2012 according to county officials. The number of reported cases each year ranged between four and 14 in the last six years according to the county's website.