This article was published on June 27th, 2022
As the world continues to battle a resurgence in COVID as well as monkey pox outbreaks, the United States is currently investigating one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease, with at least 6 deaths across 24 cases reported already according to the Center for Disease Control. To combat disinformation, HomoCulture offers the facts and current stats of the disease.
What Is Meningococcal Disease?
Meningococcal disease refers to an illness caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis and can involve infections of the brain lining and spinal cord in addition to bloodstream infections. Symptoms initially can appear similar to the common flu – including a sudden high fever, headache, sore neck, nausea, vomiting, and dark purple rashes – but the condition can worsen very rapidly.
Meningococcal Disease Is NOT A ‘Gay Disease’
Anyone can catch meningococcal disease and it is important to note that it is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease as it can spread from one person to another through respiratory and throat secretions. The disease generally requires close or lengthy physical contact, like kissing, but can also be transferred via semen.
Approximately 20% of those infected can die from the infection within days if not treated immediately with antibiotics, and there can also be long-term problems after contraction. They include hearing or vision loss, memory and concentration problems, epilepsy, and even amputation of afflicted limbs.
Florida’s Outbreak Is Primarily Affecting The LGBTQ+ Community
The current cases in Florida primarily affect gay and bisexual men, among them those living with HIV; half of the cases are among latinx men, with a smaller cluster affecting university students. Due to these heightened risks, the CDC is advising men that have sex with other men to get a meningococcal vaccine (MenACWY) if they reside in Florida or are traveling there.
The vaccine is especially critical for those with HIV that may have compromised immune systems. The vaccination is the best line of defense against the disease as it can progress quite quickly and become deadly.
Because of the current outbreak and the Pride events being held throughout the state in the upcoming weeks, the CDC is urging gay and bisexual men in the area to speak with their primary care physician and to get vaccinated.
HomoCulture will continue to monitor this story and report as it develops.