New Meningitis Outbreak In The US Expected To Affect Gay And Bisexual Men The Most

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald June 26, 10:01 am

State health officials have issued warnings about a new meningococcal disease outbreak in Southern California. The California Department of Public Health, or CDPH, said gay and bisexual men will likely be more affected by the disease.

Nine people have been affected by the meningococcal outbreak in the Los Angeles and Orange County area, SFGate reported. One individual has died from the infection.

People Advised To Take Precautions

Dr. Naveena Bobba, deputy health officer for San Francisco, advised people to take the meningococcal ACWY vaccine as precaution. San Francisco is currently celebrating the LGBT Pride week and numerous visitors from the state, the country and the world are expected to take part in the festivities.

Four of the nine meningococcal disease patients involved gay or bisexual men, with three of the cases occurring in the past six weeks, reported from the Associated Press. People who have HIV have higher risks of acquiring meningococcal disease, SFGate noted.

The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices advised this week that all HIV-infected people two months and older should get two doses of MenACWY vaccine. Gay and bisexual men who have high risks of acquiring meningococcal disease and don't have HIV should be administered with one dose of the MenACWY vaccine, while those who have tested HIV positive within the last year should get the vaccine alongside an HIV test.

Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, urged public health officials to ramp up the vaccine supply and to collaborate with community health organizations to raise awareness about the meningococcal outbreak, the Los Angeles Times wrote. Since 2014, numerous outbreaks and clusters of serogroup C meningococcal disease have occurred in Chicago, Los Angeles county and in New York City among gay and bisexual men. Similar outbreaks have been reported in Europe as well, noted.

What To Know About Meningococcal Disease

Meningococcal disease is rare but is a serious and potentially fatal disease. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meningococcal disease is caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis and infects the lining of the brain, spinal cord and the bloodstream.

Meningococcal disease is contagious. It spreads when bacteria are exchanged through nose and throat secretions (saliva or spit) during lengthy or close contacts like kissing, coughing and sharing smoking devices. Symptoms of the disease include abrupt onset of fever, stiff neck, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, muscle pain, confusion and heightened sensitivity to light.

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