Press Release

June 22, 2022
1 min read

CDC investigating 'one of the worst' meningococcal outbreaks in US history


Press Release

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The CDC is strongly recommending men who have sex with men living in Florida get a meningococcal vaccine in response to an outbreak that has sickened 24 people and killed seven.

The agency said it is “one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history,” and is working alongside the Florida Department of Health to investigate the outbreak.

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In addition to those living in Florida, the CDC is urging gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men who plan on traveling to the state to talk with their physicians about vaccination against meningococcal serogroups A, C, W and Y (MenACWY). The CDC is also reemphasizing the importance of a routine MenACWY vaccine for people with HIV.

“Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious illness, which can quickly become deadly,” José R. Romero, MD, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a press release. “Because of the outbreak in Florida, and the number of Pride events being held across the state in coming weeks, it’s important that gay and bisexual men who live in Florida get vaccinated, and those traveling to Florida talk to their health care provider about getting a MenACWY vaccine.”

Symptoms of meningococcal disease include nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, high fever, a dark purple rash and headache, according to the CDC. The symptoms can appear similar to those associated with influenza but worsen very quickly.

Meningococcal bacteria are typically spread to other people by sharing saliva, according to the CDC, often by “close and lengthy contact, such as kissing or being near someone coughing.”

The CDC said that MenACWY vaccinations should be covered by insurance “for those whom it is recommended for during an outbreak.” Florida residents can get a vaccine for free during the outbreak at any county health department, according to the release.