Around 24 cases and six deaths have been reported in Florida, in what the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has described as the “worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history”. 

The CDC and the Florida Department of Health are investigating the outbreak –  half of the cases are among hispanic men.

The agency has recommended that gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men who live in Florida or are travelling to the state to get a meningococcal vaccine (MenACWY). The CDC has recommended that college and university students in Leon County, FL, also “consider getting a MenB vaccine series”. 

‘Get Jabbed Before Travelling To Florida For Pride Events’

The health authorities have asked those travelling to Florida for events during Pride month to talk with their healthcare providers about getting jabbed. 

“Because of the outbreak in Florida, and the number of Pride events being held across the state in coming weeks, it’s important that gay and bisexual men who live in Florida get vaccinated, and those traveling to Florida talk to their healthcare provider about getting a MenACWY vaccine,” said José R. Romero, Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

“Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious illness, which can quickly become deadly,” added Romero. 

Rare, But Deadly Disease

Meningococcal disease is a “rare, but serious and life-threatening, infection” caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. “Symptoms can appear suddenly and include high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea/vomiting, or a dark purple rash,” the CDC said on its website

“Symptoms can first appear as a flu-like illness, but typically worsen very quickly. People spread meningococcal bacteria to others by sharing respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit). Generally, it takes close or lengthy contact, such as kissing or being near someone coughing, to spread these bacteria.” 

“Meningococcal disease can affect anyone and can be deadly and includes infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream. Keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best protection against meningococcal disease,” CDC said. 

According to Australian government’s Department of Health, “Symptoms appear suddenly and people can die very quickly without medical help”. 

Outbreak In Victoria In 2017

CDC Issues Alert About Meningococcal Disease Outbreak Among Gay, Bisexual Men In Florida

The CDC first issued the alert about a “large and ongoing outbreak” of meningococcal disease in Florida “primarily among gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men, including those living with HIV,” in April 2022.

The Australian state of Victoria health withal an outbreak of meningococcal disease among men who have sex with men in 2017. Between December 2017 and December 2018, the government responded with a free meningococcal vaccination programme for all men who have sex with men in Victoria .

A 2020 study found that around two-thirds of men who have sex with men in Victoria, who attended a sexual health clinic during that period, received at least one dose of the vaccine. This coincided with a reduction in the cases of meningococcal disease in the state.


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