Meningococcal Disease Outbreak Florida
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating “one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in US history” after at least 24 cases and six deaths in Florida.
In a press release Wednesday, the CDC described a serogroup C meningococcal outbreak primarily spreading among gay, bisexual, and other person who have sex with men, including those living with HIV. . About half of the cases were reported in Hispanic men. A serogroup is a group of bacteria that have a common antigen.
The CDC, which is investigating the outbreak with the Florida Department of Health, is also looking for a separate serogroup B meningococcal outbreak among college students in Leon County, Fla.
The Florida Department of Health first issued an alert about the Lyon County outbreak in April.
Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. It can cause a fatal bloodstream infection or meningitis, an infection of the lining of the brain or spinal cord.
The bacteria are spread by close contacts, such as by coughing or kissing. The most common symptoms of this disease are fever, headache or a purple rash.
The CDC is encouraging gay and bisexual men in Florida to receive the meningococcal vaccine (or MenACWY), which is free of charge through County Resources in Florida.
Jose Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said vaccination is “the best way to prevent this serious disease, which can quickly turn fatal.”
“Due to the outbreak in Florida and the number of Pride events taking place across the state in the coming weeks, it is critical that gay and bisexual men living in Florida be vaccinated,” Romero said in a statement.
“People visiting Florida talk to their healthcare provider about getting the MenACWY vaccine,” he said.