The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health warning about an outbreak of meningococcal disease in Florida, which the agency said is mainly affecting gay and bisexual men, including those living with HIV.
The CDC urged gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men to get the MenACWY vaccine if they live in Florida. It also recommended that those planning to visit Florida talk with their healthcare provider about getting the vaccine
The agency added in the advisory that multiple meningococcal disease cases in college students have been reported in the state over the last few months. However, the CDC added that there is no evidence to suggest that the cases among college students are related to the larger outbreak.
Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacteria called Neisseria Meningitidis and the CDC said that it is preventable and treatable. The advisory added that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against meningococcal disease.
According to the CDC, the two most common types of meningococcal infections are meningitis, which is an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, and bloodstream infection, both of which can quickly become deadly.
The agency said that the disease’s symptoms can first seem like flu-like illness and then rapidly worsen. Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, confusion and rash.
Florida’s Department of Health (FDOH) said on Thursday that the number of cases identified so far in 2022 surpasses the five-year average of meningococcal disease cases in the state.
FDOH said its epidemiologists are investigating each case as well as contacting people with potential or direct exposure to known cases to provide them with information and treatment options.
It urged college and university students, immunocompromised individuals, people living with HIV and men who have sex with men to get vaccinated against the disease immediately.