The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health are investigating “one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history,” the CDC said Wednesday. So far, 24 cases and seven deaths among gay and bisexual men have been reported.
The CDC says the outbreak was “primarily among gays, bisexuals, and other men who have sex with men, including people living with HIV. Recent data indicates that about half of the cases associated with this outbreak are among Hispanic men. The outbreak is mostly affects people who live in Florida but also affects some people who travel to Florida.
Meningococcal diseases include meningitis – an infection of the lining of the brain and spine – and an infection of the blood vessels. “Meningococcal disease can affect anyone and can be fatal,” the CDC said in a statement.
These bacteria spread through the secretions of the respiratory tract or throat, such as saliva or saliva. It usually takes close or long contact, for example smiling or close to a person who is coughing, to spread the bacteria.
Symptoms include high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea or vomiting or a dark purple rash, the CDC said. Although they first appear such as the flu, they usually worsen very quickly. If there are people who have these symptoms, they should immediately seek medical attention.
The CDC recommends that gays, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men receive the meningococcal vaccine if they live in Florida, or talk to a health care provider if they’re traveling to that state. For people living with HIV, health officials emphasize the importance of regular vaccinations.
“Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious disease, which can quickly become deadly,” Dr. José R. Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a CDC news release. “Because of the outbreak in Florida, and the number of Pride events being held across the country in the coming weeks, it is important that gay and bisexual men who live in Florida are vaccinated, and who travel to Florida to talk with health providers about getting a MenACWY Vaccine. “
The vaccine is offered at a doctor’s office, pharmacy, community health center or local health department, the CDC said, and insurance should cover the cost for people who are recommended the vaccine when there is an outbreak. Anyone in Florida can receive the vaccine at no cost at the county health department during an outbreak.
According to the CDC, the outbreak affects men who have sex with men caused by serogroup C. There is also an unrelated B serogroup group among students and universities in a county.