CDC investigates ‘significant and ongoing’ outbreak of meningococcal disease in Florida

CDC investigates 'significant and ongoing' outbreak of meningococcal disease in Florida

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating ‘one of the worst epidemics of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in US history’ after at least 24 cases and six deaths were reported in Florida.

In a press release Wednesday, the CDC described a serogroup C meningococcal epidemic spreading primarily among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, including those living with HIV. About half of the cases have been reported in Hispanic men. A serogroup is a group of bacteria containing a common antigen.

The CDC, which is investigating the outbreak with the Florida Department of Health, is also investigating a separate outbreak of meningococcal serogroup B among college students in Leon County, Florida.

The Florida Health Department first issued an alert about the Leon County outbreak in April.

Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. It can cause a fatal blood infection or meningitis, infection of the lining of the brain or spinal cord.

The bacteria is spread by close contact, such as coughing or kissing. The most common symptoms of the disease are a fever, headache, or a purple rash.

The CDC encourages gay and bisexual men in Florida to get the meningococcal (or MenACWY), which is free through Florida County Resources.

José Romero, director of the National Center for Vaccination and Respiratory Diseases, said getting vaccinated “is the best way to prevent this serious disease, which can quickly become fatal”.

“Due to the outbreak in Florida and the number of Pride events being held across the state in the coming weeks, it’s important that gay and bisexual men who live in Florida get vaccinated,” Romero said in a statement. communicated.

“Those who travel to Florida speak to their health care provider about getting a MenACWY vaccine,” he added.

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