The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene today has issued a vaccination advisory for men who have sex with men (MSM) against meningococcal disease – commonly known as meningitis the disease – following two recent cases of people who have contracted the disease over the past five weeks.
On September 27, 2012, the DOHMH sent a press release to media that described an outbreak of four IMD cases in the prior four weeks, with one death among those four gay men, reported Gay City News.
Separately, the agency sent an alert to healthcare providers that described 12 cases with four deaths. One occurred in 2010, three occurred in 2011, and eight occurred this year. Eight of the 12 men were HIV-positive.
Vaccinations are advised for men who have had intimate contact with another man, regardless of their HIV status.
This recommendation also includes MSM who have met through a website, digital application (“App”), or at a bar or party since September 1, 2012 and who live in one of the following neighborhoods: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bushwick, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo, East New York, Prospect Heights and Williamsburg.
"We are asking for our community to share this vital information with their networks, friends, and families,” said Dr. Karen Aletha Maybank, assistant commissioner at the Bed-Stuy office of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“The goal is to get individuals vaccinated to prevent the spread of this disease and potential death.”
Some of the common symptoms of meningitis include high fever, headache, stiff neck, and rash that develop rapidly upon onset. Symptoms may occur two to 10 days after exposure, but usually within five days.
Vaccination prevents, but does not treat current infection, so people who experience these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.
People who wish to get vaccinated should first ask their health care provider if they have the vaccine. For those who cannot obtain the vaccine from their health care provider, Health Department clinics can administer the vaccine. Locations are listed here.