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Published On: Sat, Mar 30th, 2013

NY State health officials expands on meningitis vaccine recommendations for MSM throughout state

In a follow up to recommendations from the New York City Health Department concerning meningitis vaccine in men who have sex with men (MSM), state health authorities are expanding the recommendations to be applicable statewide, according to a New York State Department of Health (DOH) release earlier this week.

Public domain image/Franklin Baldo via Wikimedia Commons

Public domain image/Franklin Baldo via Wikimedia Commons

The meningococcal vaccine recommendations have been issued in response to an outbreak of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) in New York City. Since 2010, 22 men residing in NYC and one man who resides outside the City, but spent significant time there, have become ill in this outbreak, seven have died.

The recommendation by DOH has been expanded to include MSM residing outside NYC who have traveled to the City and engaged in the risk behaviors described below since September 1, 2012.

The following groups were identified by NYCDOHMH as being at highest risk of IMD and are being advised to obtain a quadravalent meningococcal vaccination:

  • All HIV-infected MSM
  • MSM, regardless of HIV status, who regularly have close or intimate sexual contact with men met through an online website, digital application (“app”), or at a bar or party. (Previously, meningococcal vaccination was recommended only for those with contact in certain high risk areas in New York City)

Meningococcal meningitis is caused by the bacterium, Neisseria meningitidis, which causes the most severe form of bacterial meningitis. Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can also be found in the bloodstream. This particular type of meningitis is very severe and can result in death if not treated promptly. Even in cases where treatment has been given, the fatality rate is around 15%.

The symptoms of bacterial meningitis are sudden, with fever, stiff neck, body aches and headaches. As the disease progresses other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, photophobia and seizures. A petechial rash seen on the trunk and lower extremities, bleeding complications, multi-organ failures and shock are usually final signs. This disease has the ability to kill within hours of getting it.

Up to 10-20% of older children and young adults carry this organism in the mouth and nose, though the carriage rate will vary with age and closeness of population. The majority of people that carry this bacterium have no clinical disease. The organism is spread person to person through respiratory secretions from the nose and mouth (coughing, sneezing and kissing). Experts are unsure why some people advance to meningitis disease while many do not.

Crowded living conditions facilitate the spread of the organisms and places like military barracks and college dormitories are well-documented areas of concern with this disease.

If you have close contact with someone with meningococcal meningitis, see your doctor for prophylactic antibiotics.

Meningococcal meningitis is a devastating disease with epidemic potential. This disease is considered a medical emergency and if you have the classic symptoms see your health care professional. It can be treated with antibiotics, but without delay.

Meningococcal meningitis can be prevented with vaccination.

HIV positive individuals who do not have a health care provider or whose provider does not currently have the meningococcal vaccine can use the following link to find locations that offer vaccinations and/or health care services: www.health.ny.gov/diseases/aids/resources/resource_directory/. Other individuals can visitwww.nysacho.org and use the directory to find contact information for their local health department, which also may have the vaccine.

Additional provider information can be found on the statewide HIV provider directory at: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/aids/resources/resource_directory/.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. New York City officials investigate meningitis cluster in HIV positive gay men | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] 2013, an outbreak of meningococcal disease among men who have sex with men ended in February that year after 22 cases were reported, including seven fatal […]

  2. NYC reports first serogroup C invasive meningococcal disease in MSM in 17 months | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] Health Department continues to recommend meningococcal vaccine for the following New York City residents: • All HIV-infected MSM • MSM, regardless of HIV […]

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