Don’t be surprised if you see the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at this year’s LGBTQ pride parade or on your dating app.
The CDC has been trying to warn men in Florida or traveling to Florida, particularly those who identify as gay, bisexual, queer, or trans, that they need to get a meningococcal disease vaccine. Meningococcal disease, also known as pneumonia, is a bacterial infection of the brain and spinal cord lining.
The CDC describes the current outbreak in Florida as “one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history.”
There have been 26 cases and seven deaths as of Friday, with 24 of these cases involving men who have sex with men. Six of the victims belonged to the LGBTQ community. Half of the cases have been reported in Hispanic men.
The disease does not affect only people who identify as LGBT or Q, and it does not appear to be linked to a single event. The CDC is still looking into it, but the outbreak is still going on.
The outbreak comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating another unusual outbreak of monkeypox in countries where the disease is not endemic, including the United States. The CDC reported 201 orthopoxvirus cases in the United States as of Friday, including 16 in Florida.
According to the CDC, the threat to the general US population is low, but there are unusually high numbers of monkeypox cases among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. “However, anyone who has had close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk,” according to the CDC.
Sam Crowe, the CDC’s Associate Director for Prevention, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, told CNN on Friday that many of the meningococcal cases had been concentrated in Central Florida, but there are now cases throughout the state.
Meningococcal disease does not always have to be fatal. According to the CDC, between two and ten people who contract the bacterial infection die. However, as soon as a person becomes ill, antibiotics must be administered.
Throughout the summer, the CDC intends to continue a large publicity and education push in both English and Spanish in local newspapers, gay media, and social apps. According to the agency, its presence at pride events will continue throughout the summer.
The company stated on the Grindr app that they are working with the CDC and Building Health Online Communities, a nonprofit that supports gay men’s health, to spread the word about the outbreak.
Gridr stated that it first notified its users in Florida about the outbreak in April, and then again two weeks ago. One message warns users that gay and bi men in Florida are more likely to contract meningococcal disease and should seek immediate medical attention if they experience symptoms such as a stiff neck, headache, or severe flu-like symptoms. Another advocate for the vaccine.
People may be unaware that they need to see a doctor because the symptoms are similar to those of other health issues such as a hangover or the flu.
Crowe told , “That’s part of the challenge.” “High fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and even a dark purple rash are all symptoms. It can, however, progress quickly and lead to death in a short period of time. So we’re telling people that if they’re experiencing those symptoms, they should see their doctor as soon as possible.”
It does not spread as easily as the common cold. According to Crowe, getting sick requires close contact with the infected. However, “close contact” can simply mean living in the same household.
It spreads through respiratory secretions such as saliva or spit, as well as kissing.
“It’s very concerning to see that many deaths, and even for those who survive, there are a lot of really bad consequences, including potential limb amputation and deafness. It is a very serious disease “Crowe stated.
People living with HIV are especially vulnerable because their immune systems are compromised.
To avoid serious illness, the CDC has long advised people living with HIV to get vaccinated against meningococcal disease.
However, the CDC is now advising the community, regardless of HIV status, to get the vaccination right away. Even if they had one when they were kids. Typically, the vaccine’s protection wears off after about five years.
MenACWY vaccine should be requested. There is another, MenB, but the subspecies of bacteria from serogroup C appear to be at the root of these cases among Florida’s LGBTQ community.
“The vaccine is easily accessible. People can visit their local health care provider “Crowe stated. “The vaccine is also available for free at the county health department. We’re working hard to ensure that everyone who needs the vaccine gets it as soon as possible.”