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CDC issues health alert to gay and bi men in Florida

A man wearing a facemask who has been vaccinated
Posed by model (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a health alert about an outbreak of the meningococcal disease in Florida that’s mainly affecting gay and bisexual men.

In response to the outbreak, the CDC has taken the step of advising gay men in the state to get vaccinated, especially if they have HIV.

They also recommend gay men get a booster shot if they had the vaccine more than five years ago.

“In response to an ongoing outbreak of meningococcal disease in Florida, state health officials are recommending all gay and bisexual men living in the state get vaccinated with one dose of a MenACWY vaccine to help protect against meningococcal disease.

“Florida health officials are also emphasizing the importance of routine vaccination against meningococcal disease for people with HIV. For the best protection, people with HIV should make sure they have gotten their 2-dose primary series of a MenACWY vaccine and are up to date with booster doses.”

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It says the outbreak is mostly affecting people who live in Florida, “but has also affected some people who have traveled to Florida. The two most common types of meningococcal infections are meningitis (an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and bloodstream infection, both of which can quickly become deadly.”

If you’re likely to be traveling to Florida, speak with a health provider about being vaccinated at least two weeks before visiting the state.

The most common symptoms of meningococcal disease are fever, headache, and a stiff neck. This can sometimes be accompanied by vomiting, photophobia (when your eyes are extra sensitive to light), and mental confusion.

According to ABC 27 News, the outbreak so far includes three confirmed cases in Leon County, according to the local Department of Health.

“We stand at three confirmed cases in individuals in Tallahassee aged 18 to 22. DOH Leon continues to emphasize that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against this disease, and that the Department offers meningococcal disease vaccines,” said a DOH spokesperson.

Related: What is Shigella—and why should gay men know about it?