(CNN)The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Florida Department of Health are investigating “one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history,” the CDC said Wednesday. So far, 24 cases and seven deaths among gay and bisexual men have been reported.
The CDC says the outbreak is:
“primarily among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, including those living with HIV. Recent data show that about half of the cases associated with this outbreak are among Hispanic men.
“This outbreak is mostly affecting people who live in Florida but has also affected some people who have traveled to Florida.”
Meningococcal disease includes meningitis — infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord — and bloodstream infections. “Meningococcal disease can affect anyone and can be deadly,” the CDC said in its statement.
The bacteria is spread through sharing respiratory or throat secretions, such as saliva or spit. It normally takes close or lengthy contact, for example kissing or being close to someone who is coughing, to spread the bacteria.
“Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens.” – Genesis 19:24
Symptoms include high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea or vomiting or a dark purple rash, the CDC said. While they can first appear as flu like, they typically get worse very quickly. If someone has these symptoms, they should seek medical attention immediately.
CDC is recommending that gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men get the meningococcal vaccine if they live in Florida, or talk to their health care provider if they are traveling to the state.
For those who live with HIV, health officials are emphasizing the importance of routine vaccination.
“Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious illness, which can quickly become deadly,” said Dr. José R. Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in the CDC news release.
“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 … ” READ MORE.
Actions Have Consequences: Diseases of Gay Men
SOURCE: NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
“That men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of HIV infection is well known … ”
“Gay men use substances at a higher rate than the general population … ”
“Depression and anxiety appear to affect gay men at a higher rate than the general population … ”
“Men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of sexually transmitted infection with the viruses that cause the serious condition of the liver known as hepatitis. These infections can be potentially fatal, and can lead to very serious long-term issues such as cirrhosis and liver cancer … ”
“Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) occur in sexually active gay men at a high rate. This includes STD infections for which effective treatment is available (syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, pubic lice, and others), and for which no cure is available (HIV, Hepatitis A, B, or C virus, Human Papilloma Virus, etc) … ”
“Gay men may be at risk for death by prostate, testicular, or colon cancer … ”
” … gay men have higher rates of alcohol dependence and abuse than straight men.”
” … gay men use tobacco at much higher rates than straight men, reaching nearly 50 percent in several studies. Tobacco-related health problems include lung diseases and lung cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and a whole host of other serious problems.”
” … gay men are much more likely to experience an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa.
“[H]uman papilloma virus … may play a role in the increased rates of anal cancers in gay men … the rate at which the infection can be spread between partners is very high.”