Outbreak occurring among gay and bisexual men.
Gay and bisexual communities have been dealing with monkeypox outbreaks during “Pride Month.”
In addition to this virus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating “one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history.”
The CDC said Thursday there have been 26 cases and seven deaths from meningococcal disease in Florida during the investigation period. Among those, 24 cases and six deaths were in men who have sex with men.
The CDC says the outbreak is “primarily among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, including those living with HIV. Recent data show that about half of the cases associated with this outbreak are among Hispanic men. This outbreak is mostly affecting people who live in Florida but has also affected some people who have traveled to Florida.”
Meningococcal disease is caused by a specific type of bacteria (Neisseria meningitides). These illnesses are often severe and can be fatal. The bacteria inflames the lining of the brain and spinal cord (i.e., meningitis).
The concern with meningitis is that, while treatable, the infection can progress rapidly to sepsis (the release of chemicals into the bloodstream to fight a disease that triggers severe inflammation throughout the body). The result can mean death (in 10 to 15% of cases) and long-term disabilities in 1 in 5 survivors (e.g., deafness, loss of limbs, neurological problems).
Two subspecies of meningitis-causing bacteria have been identified in Florida.
Serogroup C is the strain currently affecting large numbers of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. There is also an outbreak in Leon County of serogroup B meningococcal disease among college students.
The bacteria is spread through prolonged close contact involving sharing respiratory or throat secretions, such as saliva or spit. Although it is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease because it is not transferred via sexual bodily fluids such as semen, it can be spread through sex or kissing.
Some vaccines are available, and the CDC promotes their use to control the spread.
“Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious illness, which can quickly become deadly,” said Dr. José R. Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
“Because of the outbreak in Florida, and the number of Pride events being held across the state in coming weeks, it’s important that gay and bisexual men who live in Florida get vaccinated, and those traveling to Florida talk to their healthcare provider about getting a MenACWY vaccine.”
It will be interesting to see how seriously the affected communities heed health officials, whose credibility is severely diminished due to the ineffective and damaging coronavirus policies they pushed.
Meningitis is a dreadful disease. Prayers that this outbreak can be ended swiftly.DONATE
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