CDC warns of meningococcal disease outbreak affecting gay, bisexual men in Florida

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Meningococcal disease outbreak Florida
Image source: Florida Department of Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health warning in response to the report regarding a meningococcal disease outbreak in Florida. The disease is primarily affecting gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men.

A report from the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) noted that the number of cases identified this 2022 was more than the 5-year average of meningococcal disease cases in the state.

The FDOH is investigating every case and it is contacting individuals who possibly had direct exposure to those infected with meningococcal disease.

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According to the CDC, meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. People infected with this disease spread the bacteria through close personal contact such as kissing or living together.  The two most common types of meningococcal infections are meningitis, an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, and bloodstream infection. Both are very serious and often deadly.

The CDC is encouraging gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men including those living with HIV to get a MenACWY vaccine if they live in Florida.

To those planning to travel to Florida, the agency is recommending that they should speak to their healthcare provider about getting a MenACWY vaccine.

In the health advisory, the CDC also noted that there were confirmed multiple cases of meningococcal disease among college students in Florida over the past few months. However, the agency stated that there is no evidence to suggest that the cases among college students are connected to the larger outbreak in the state.

The CDC emphasized that it is important for people with HIV to get their 2-dose primary series of MenACWY and to make sure that they are up to date with their booster doses for the best protection.

The agency also stated that MenV vaccines are available to any teen or young adult 16 to 23 years old. In recent years, college campuses reported outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease.

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