Florida’s Meningococcal Outbreak Causes Six Fatalities
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today that a large, ongoing outbreak of serogroup C meningococcal disease had been confirmed in at least 24 cases, causing six related fatalities in Florida.
In response to this outbreak, the CDC is recommending gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men get a meningococcal vaccine (MenACWY) if they live in Florida or talk with their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated if they are traveling to Florida.
Anyone can spread meningococcal bacteria to others by sharing respiratory and throat secretions. Generally, it takes close or lengthy contact, such as kissing or being near someone coughing, to spread these bacteria, says the CDC.
The Florida Department of Health and the CDC also emphasized on June 22, 2022, the importance of routine MenACWY vaccination for people with HIV.
“Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious illness, which can quickly become deadly,” said José R. Romero, M.D., Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a CDC press 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 with a MenACWY vaccine.”
In response to the serogroup B cluster in Florida, officials are recommending that college and university students in Leon County, FL, consider getting a MenB vaccine series.
People can find a meningococcal vaccine by contacting their doctor’s office, pharmacy, community health center, or local health department.
Insurance providers should pay for meningococcal vaccination for those whom it is recommended for during an outbreak.
In Florida, anyone can get a MenACWY vaccine at no cost at any county health department during the outbreak.
Meningococcal symptoms can appear suddenly, including high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea/vomiting, or a dark purple rash. Symptoms can first appear as a flu-like illness but can worsen very quickly.
Meningococcal disease can be deadly and includes infections of the lining of the brain, spinal cord (meningitis), and bloodstream.
‘Keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best protection against meningococcal disease, says the CDC.
More information about the outbreak and vaccine is available at Meningococcal Disease in Florida, 2022 | CDC.
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