Health warning for Florida’s gay men: bacterial meningitis

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The Florida Department of Health is issuing a warning for gay men, suggesting they educate themselves about the risks and signs of bacterial meningitis.

Men who have recently traveled to New York or Los Angeles should take extra caution. More information after the jump:

Here’s the full news alert from the Florida Health Department:

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) recommends that the Men having Sex with Men (MSM) population educate themselves on the risks associated with bacterial meningitis. Extra caution should be taken when traveling to cities such as New York or Los Angeles, which have higher incidences of the disease in the MSM community.

“Since we have seen an increase in the incidence of bacterial meningitis in this population we want to educate individuals about the importance of preventing the disease,” said Dr. Celeste Philip, Interim Deputy Secretary for Health. “Individuals in this population, who are traveling to other parts of the country where increases in cases have been reported, should talk to their health care provider.”

Meningitis is an inflammation of the delicate membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. One form of bacterial meningitis, caused by Neisseria meningitidis (or meningococcus), is uncommon but potentially fatal and should always be viewed as a medical emergency. As many as 10-15% of cases lead to death, sometimes within 24 hours, and a significant number of those who contract the infection have serious complications.

Bacterial meningitis is transmitted person-to-person through droplets of respiratory or throat secretions. Close contact—such as kissing, sneezing or coughing, or living in close quarters with an infected person, facilitates the spread of the disease. Droplet spread, versus airborne spread generally takes place at a range of three feet or less, and prolonged contact generally is required for infection to occur.

The most common symptoms are a stiff neck, high fever, sensitivity to light, confusion, severe headache, and vomiting. Rash may also occur. The symptoms usually develop within three to seven days of exposure. Antibiotic treatment is effective, but it must be given without delay once meningococcal disease is suspected.

Early, aggressive treatment of bacterial meningitis can prevent serious complications and death. Preventive oral antibiotic therapy for close contacts of confirmed cases is available and highly effective.

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  • michaelvacirca
  • michaelvacirca

    22 were Gay Men in NYC in 3 years, and 1 case in LA – thats out of three years. 4,000 people are infected YEARLY in the USA.

    Education is important, but proper education is even more important. This should not be about LGBT health – this should be an article and a warning for everyone’s health.

    “The good news is that fewer people are getting bacterial meningitis. The bad news is that if you get it, it’s still a very serious infection,” said study co-author Dr. Cynthia Whitney, chief of the bacterial respiratory diseases branch at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

    “There are still at least 4,000 cases a year, including about 500 that are fatal,” she noted.