24 cases, 7 deaths among gay and bisexual men reported in meningococcal outbreak in Florida, CDC says

The CDC says the outbreak is “mainly among gays, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men, including those living with HIV. Recent data shows that about half of the cases associated with this outbreak are among Hispanic men. This outbreak is mainly affecting 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 its statement.

Bacteria are spread by sharing respiratory or throat secretions, such as saliva or spit. It usually takes close or long contact, such as kissing or being near someone who is coughing, to spread the bacteria.

Symptoms include a high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea or vomiting, or a dark purple rash, the CDC said. While they may initially appear as a flu, they typically get worse very quickly. If anyone has these symptoms, they should see a doctor right away.

The CDC recommends that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men receive the meningococcal vaccine if they live in Florida, or speak to their doctor if they travel to the state. For those living with HIV, health officials are emphasizing the importance of routine vaccination.

“Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious disease, which can quickly become fatal,” said Dr. José R. Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in the CDC press release. “Due to the outbreak in Florida 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 who travel to Florida talk to their own. doctor to obtain a MenACWY Vaccine. ”

The vaccine is offered in doctor’s offices, pharmacies, community health centers, or local health departments, the CDC said, and insurance should cover the costs for people for whom the vaccine is recommended during an outbreak. Anyone in Florida can get the vaccine for free from county health departments during the outbreak.

According to the CDC, the epidemic affecting men who have sex with men is caused by serogroup C. There is also an unrelated serogroup B cluster among college and university students in a county.

The meningococcal disease epidemic update comes as the CDC monitored an unusual monkeypox outbreak in countries where the disease is not endemic, including the United States. Reports from the CDC reported 142 cases of orthopoxvirus in the United States, including 13 in Florida.

The threat to the general U.S. population is low, the CDC says, but there are a particularly large number of cases of monkeypox among gays, bisexuals, and other men who have sex with men. “However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk,” notes the CDC.

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