(CNN) The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health are investigating “one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among homosexuals and bisexual men in American history,” the CDC reported on Wednesday.
The CDC said on Thursday that there were 26 cases and seven deaths from meningococcal disease in Florida during the investigation period. Among them, 24 cases and six deaths were in men who have sex with men.
The CDC says the epidemic is primarily among homosexuals, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men, including those living with HIV.Recent data show that about half of the cases associated with this epidemic are among Hispanic men. it mainly affects people living in Florida, but it has also affected some people who have traveled to Florida. “
Meningococcal disease includes meningitis – infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord – and infections of the bloodstream. “Meningococcal disease can affect anyone and can be fatal,” the CDC said in a statement.
Bacteria are spread by sharing respiratory or throat secretions, such as saliva or saliva. It usually takes close or long-term contact, such as kissing or being close to someone who is coughing, for the bacteria to spread.
Symptoms include fever, headache, neck stiffness, nausea or vomiting, or a dark purple rash, according to the CDC. Although they may look like the flu at first, they usually get worse very quickly. If someone has these symptoms, they should seek medical help immediately.
The CDC recommends that homosexuals, bisexuals, and other men who have sex with men get the meningococcal vaccine if they live in Florida, or talk to their health care providers if they travel to the state. For those living with HIV, health officials stress the importance of routine vaccination.
“Vaccination against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious disease, which can quickly become deadly,” said Dr. José R. Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a statement from the CDC. “Because of the Florida epidemic and the number of Pride events taking place across the country in the coming weeks, it’s important that gay and bisexual men living in Florida get vaccinated, and those traveling to Florida talk to their healthcare professionals about getting MenACWY vaccines.”
The vaccine is offered in doctors’ offices, pharmacies, community health centers or local health departments, the CDC said, and the insurance should cover the costs for people who are recommended for the vaccine during the epidemic. Anyone in Florida can get the vaccine for free from the county health departments during an epidemic.
According to the CDC, an epidemic affecting men who have sex with men is caused by serogroup C. There is also an unrelated serogroup B among students in one district.
An update on the outbreak of meningococcal disease comes as the CDC monitors an unusual outbreak of monkeypox in countries where the disease is not endemic, including the United States. CDC reports have reported 142 cases of orthopoxvirus in the United States, including 13 in Florida.
The threat to the general American population is low, says the CDC, but there is a noticeable number of cases of monkeypox among homosexuals, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men. “However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is in danger,” the CDC notes.
Explanation: The CDC on Thursday updated and corrected the total number of cases and deaths from meningococcal disease in Florida, including the number of men who have sex with men.