Due to an ongoing outbreak of meningococcal disease in Southern California, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is urging all gay and bisexual men and HIV-infected persons in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties be vaccinated against meningococcal disease.
Since March, 22 cases of meningococcal disease have been confirmed in an outbreak in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, including several cases in the past week. Two other cases are currently under investigation. To date, two patients have died as a result of their infections. Most of the patients have been gay or bisexual men, and while no cases have been reported in San Diego County, health officials are advising gay and bisexual men there to also be vaccinated.
Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial infection that can cause meningitis and bloodstream infections (sepsis). Although rare, meningococcal disease is very serious and potentially fatal.
“Vaccination is the best protection against meningococcal disease,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “It is important that all gay and bisexual men and people living with HIV in the affected counties take action to protect themselves to reduce their risk.”
All gay and bisexual men and HIV-infected persons in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties are recommended to receive MenACWY vaccine. HIV-infected persons should receive two doses of the vaccine and uninfected men should receive one dose. Those who were vaccinated more than five years ago should be revaccinated. Vaccination clinics can be located using CDC’s Adult Vaccine Finder.
Meningococcal bacteria are transmitted through close personal contact and can be spread from person to person by respiratory droplets from the nose and throat. Individuals who are in close or intimate contact with multiple people, regularly visit crowded venues such as bars and parties, or use illegal drugs, smoke cigarettes, marijuana, hookahs or spend time in smoky settings may be at increased risk of infection.
Symptoms of meningococcal disease may include fever, vomiting, severe headache, stiff neck, confusion, rash and generalized muscle pains. The time from exposure to the start of symptoms is typically just a few days. People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.