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Published On: Thu, Dec 6th, 2012

San Francisco health officials suggest MSM consider meningitis vaccine if traveling to NYC

San Francisco flag Public domain image/Makaristos via Wikimedia Commons

In a follow-up to a story last week, officials with the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) are asking men who have sex with men (MSM) who are traveling to New York City to consider getting vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis in light of the current outbreak, according to a SFDPH press release today.

Last week, NYC health authorities expanded meningococcal meningitis vaccine recommendations for MSM regardless of HIV status after  new cases of the deadly disease were recently diagnosed.

Over the past year, 12 cases of meningococcal disease were identified among MSM in NYC, including three new cases in the past six weeks.

Although there is no  recent issues with meningococcal disease in San Francisco, health officials are taking action in order to inform and protect San Francisco residents who could become infected with meningococcal disease, specifically during travel to NYC.

Tomas Aragon, MD, Health Officer for the City and County of San Francisco, stated, “We want San Francisco men to know about the New York City recommendations so that they can make good health choices. MSM planning travel to NYC who anticipate having close or intimate contact with MSM in New York City, and MSM who have recently traveled to New York City and had close or intimate contact with MSM there, should be aware of the New York City meningococcal disease outbreak and ought to discuss vaccination with their doctor.”

Meningococcal meningitis is an infection that results in swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

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.

Meningococcal meningitis can be prevented with vaccination.

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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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