CDC Investigates Rare Disease in Florida Dubbed as ‘One of the Worst Outbreaks Among Gay and Bisexual Men in U.S. History’

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Wednesday that the agency continued collaborating with the Florida Department of Health to investigate a rare disease outbreak among gay and bisexual men.

In a press release, the CDC said they are assisting with the meningococcal disease outbreak investigation in Florida that spread among homosexual males, including those with HIV.

According to the agency, this is one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history.

So far, at least 24 cases and 7 deaths among homosexuals  have recently been reported in the ‘Sunshine State.’

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“In response to this outbreak, 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. CDC is also emphasizing the importance of routine MenACWY vaccination for people with HIV,” CDC said in a statement.

CDC is now urging homosexuals to get a MenACWY vaccine if they reside in Florida or by contacting their doctor’s office, pharmacy, community health center, or local health department or their healthcare provider about the vaccination if traveling to Florida.

“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. “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.”

According to Minnesota Health Department, meningococcal disease is a rare, serious illness caused by a bacteria (Neisseria meningitidis). It can cause meningitis, which is an infection of the brain and spinal cord, and it can also cause blood infections.

Up to one out of seven (10-14 percent) of those who get the disease die.

More information about the meningococcal disease from M.N. Health Department:

Symptoms can include:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Very stiff neck
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Vomiting
  • Exhaustion

If a person has a blood infection, a rash may also develop.

Early symptoms can easily be mistaken for influenza or other illnesses.

When symptoms start, they come on quickly and the person may get very sick very fast. Contact your health care provider immediately if you have symptoms.

How does meningococcal disease spread?

Meningococcal disease is spread by contact with secretions (saliva or spit) from the nose and throat.

It can be spread through kissing, sharing silverware, drinking directly from the same container, sharing a cigarette or lipstick, and having close social contact (living in the same household).

It is not spread through casual contact, such as being in the same room or touching the same object.

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