The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health and Human Services are urging men who have sex with men to be vaccinated against meningitis amid “one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease in gays and bisexuals in U.S. history.”
In Florida, there have been 26 cases and seven deaths from meningococcal disease in recent weeks, including 24 cases and six deaths from gays and bisexuals.
The CDC said in a statement that the outbreak of meningococcal infection “occurred mainly among gays, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men, including those living with HIV. Recent data show that about half of the Hispanic cases associated with the epidemic are men.
“This epidemic primarily affects people who live in Florida, but also some people who have traveled to Florida.”
Meningococcal infections include meningitis (an infection of the meningeal membrane that lines the brain and spinal cord) and toxemia. If left untreated, both of these conditions can lead to death within a few days. Two serogroups – subspecies of meningococcal bacteria – known as B and C were identified in the Florida outbreak.
Serogroup C is a strain that currently affects a large number of gays, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men. Meningococcal serogroup B disease in Leon district also broke out among college students.
Bacteria spread by long-term close contact, sharing airway or throat secretions such as saliva or saliva. Although it is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease because it is not transmitted by sexual body fluids such as sperm, it can be transmitted through sex or kissing.
“Vaccination against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious, rapidly fatal disease,” said Dr. José R. Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a CDC statement.
“Given the outbreak of the Florida epidemic and the number of Pride events taking place across the state in the coming weeks, it is important that gay and bisexual men living in Florida are vaccinated and those traveling to Florida speak to their healthcare provider. vaccinated with MenACWY. “
MenACWY protects against serogroups A, C, W and Y, while MenB is recommended for serogroup B. People with HIV are most prone to meningococcal infection because they often have a weakened immune system. The CDC recommends that people living with HIV receive the meningococcal conjugated ACWY vaccine and booster doses of the vaccine for life.
meningococci Bacteria are responsible for these outbreaks, but many people transmit bacteria without getting sick. About 1 in 10 people have these bacteria in their nose and throat, but they will not get sick unless the bacteria get into the bloodstream or the lining of the brain. Serogroups B, C and Y are the most common in the United States
According to the CDC, symptoms of meningococcal infection include high fever, sensitivity to light, headache, stiff neck, nausea or vomiting, or a dark purple rash. It can often be misinterpreted as a hangover, but treatment is needed as soon as possible.
As many as 2 in 10 people who develop meningococcus will die of the infection, but one person can be rescued if treated immediately with antibiotics. However, long-term problems can occur after infection with bacteria, including hearing or vision loss, memory and concentration disorders, epilepsy, and even amputation of the affected limbs.
Men who have sex with men are encouraged to talk to their doctor about vaccinating MenACWY when traveling to Florida, the CDC said.