FLORIDA (CW44 News At 10 | CNN) – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health are investigating 24 cases and seven deaths in the Florida meningococcal disease outbreak.
“One of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in US history,” the CDC said.
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The CDC says the outbreak is “predominantly among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, including those living with HIV. Recent data suggest that the outbreak has been linked to About half of the cases are in Hispanic men. The outbreak is affecting mostly people living in Florida, but also affecting some people who have traveled to Florida.
Meningococcal disease includes meningitis — an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord — and infections in the bloodstream. “Meningococcal disease can affect anyone and can be fatal,” the CDC said in its statement.
The bacteria are spread by sharing respiratory or throat secretions, such as saliva or sputum. It usually takes close or prolonged contact to spread the bacteria, for example kissing or being close to someone who is coughing.
The CDC said symptoms include high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea or vomiting or a dark purple rash. While they may appear like the flu at first, they usually get worse very quickly. If someone has these symptoms, they should seek medical help immediately.
The CDC is recommending that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men receive the meningococcal vaccine if they live in Florida, or talk to their health care provider if they are traveling to the state. . For those living with HIV, health officials are stressing the importance of regular vaccinations.
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“Vaccination against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious disease, which can quickly turn fatal,” said Dr. Jose R. Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a CDC news 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 are traveling to Florida, They talk to their healthcare provider about getting a MenACWY vaccine.”
The vaccine is offered at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, community health centers or local health departments, the CDC said, and insurance must cover the cost for those for whom the vaccine is recommended. Anyone in Florida can get the vaccine at no cost at county health departments during an outbreak.
According to the CDC, outbreaks affecting men who have sex with men are caused by serogroup C. There is also an unrelated serogroup B cluster between college and university students in one county.
The meningococcal disease outbreak update comes as CDC is tracking unusual outbreaks of monkeypox in countries where the disease is not endemic, including the United States. The CDC report reports 142 orthopoxvirus cases in the United States, including 13 in Florida.
The CDC says the threat to the general US population is low, but cases of monkeypox are significantly higher among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. “However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone with monkeypox is at risk,” notes the CDC.
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