Florida meningococcal outbreak among gay and bisexual men is one of the worst in U.S. history: CDC

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating one of the worst meningococcal outbreaks among gay and bisexual men in US history, according to a recent press release.

“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.

“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 get a MenACWY vaccine. “

The agency reported at least 24 cases and 6 deaths among gay and bisexual men related to this disease, with about half of the outbreak cases among Hispanic men.

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Cases related to the current outbreak are most among those living in Florida, but have also affected some who have traveled to the state.

Holding a test tube with blood in it. Handwritten HIV label on it with the negative tick box crossed out.
(iStock)

The CDC recommends the MenACWY vaccine, which protects against meningococcal disease caused by four strains of meningococcal bacteria: A, C, W, and Y.

The agency noted that all HIV patients should be routinely immunized with the MenACWY vaccine.

The outbreak is caused by serotype C, but there are six serotypes that cause the disease worldwide, although primarily serotypes B, C, and Y cause the majority of meningococcal cases in the United States.

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The CDC is also monitoring an outbreak of monkeypox in countries that don’t normally report the disease, with early data showing high numbers of gay, bisexual, and other men having sex with men.

As of June 23, 173 cases of monkeypox / orthopoxvirus have been reported in the United States, including about 16 cases in Florida, according to the CDC website.

Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria meningitidis.

About 10% of people are colonized by bacteria in the back of their nose and throat, which means they are “carriers” that harbor the bacteria in their body without getting sick.

People carry the rainbow flag as they participate in the Miami Beach Pride Parade along Ocean Drive on September 19, 2021 in Miami Beach, Florida.

People carry the rainbow flag as they participate in the Miami Beach Pride Parade along Ocean Drive on September 19, 2021 in Miami Beach, Florida.
(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

It spreads by close contact usually through coughing, kissing, or prolonged contact.

It’s not as contagious as cold or flu germs, so people aren’t infected with the bacteria through “casual contact” or by breathing the air where someone with active meningococcal disease has been.

But when bacteria invade the body, they can cause two major diseases: septicemia, in which bacteria invade the bloodstream and cause damage to organs; and meningitis, which is inflammation of the protective membranes (known as meninges) that cover the brain and spinal cord.

Close-up of the entrance sign for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Close-up of the entrance sign for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(iStock)

Typical symptoms of meningitis can start as flu-like symptoms that rapidly progress to fever, headache, and stiff neck when bacteria infect the protective lining of the brain and spinal cord.

Meningococcal septicemia, also known as meningococcus, causes bleeding in the skin and other organs as bacteria multiply and destroy blood vessel walls, which often leads to a purplish rash in the later stages of the disease.

Symptoms of septicemia also include fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, cold extremities, rapid breathing, and severe muscle, joint, chest, or abdominal pain.

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“People can find a meningococcal vaccine by contacting their doctor’s office, pharmacy, community health center, or local health department. Insurers should pay for the meningococcal vaccination for those for whom it is recommended during a day. Outbreak. In Florida, anyone can get a free MenACWY vaccine in any health department in the county during the outbreak, ”the CDC said.

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