Gay health body ACON has issued a travel health warning for gay men travelling to New York City following an extended outbreak of meningococcal meningitis disease in the city.

ACON issued the travel warning based on advice from the Australian Society of HIV Medicine. Twenty-two cases of meningococcal meningitis have been reported in New York since 2010, including four in 2013 so far, with seven fatalities. Twelve of the 22 cases have been in HIV-positive men, along with five of the seven deaths.

ACON director of HIV and Sexual Health programs Geoff Honnor said that while there was no “particular linkage” between meningococcal and gay men locally, the New York outbreak has “been going on much longer among this group than you’d normally expect”.

“Symptoms come on rapidly, usually within five days and include high fever, headache, stiff neck and rash. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical assistance immediately,” Honnor said.

Meningococcal disease, a severe bacterial infection of the bloodstream, spreads through contact with bodily fluids and has a fatality rate of between 10 and 20 per cent. Around 70 cases a year are noted in NSW.


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