The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning gay and bisexual men in Florida about an outbreak of meningococcal disease in Florida, urging men who have sex with men to get vaccinated.

The Florida Department of Health reported last week that the number of meningococcal cases identified in 2022 has already surpassed the five year average in the state. The CDC has also identified cases among college students, but says they are not part of the larger outbreak affecting men who have sex with men.

The two most common types of meningococcal infections are meningitis, which is an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, and bloodstream infection, according to the CDC. Both can quickly become deadly.

College students, immunocompromised people, people living with HIV and men who have sex with men should all get vaccinated against meningococcal disease with a MenACWY vaccine, according to the CDC and Florida Department of Health. People in those groups who have not been vaccinated in five years should also get another shot.

Cases have also been discovered in people who have traveled to Florida, and the CDC recommends that men who have sex with men who are planning to travel there also get vaccinated.

Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. The bacteria is not spread through casual contact, but requires close contact over time or direct contact like kissing or sharing drinks, according to the CDC.

Symptoms begin as fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, confusion and rash. Those who develop these symptoms should see a health care provider immediately according to the Florida Department of Health, which added: “This is a rare but potentially devastating disease.”


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