In a follow-up to an earlier report, since June 1, there have been six confirmed cases of meningitis among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Illinois, with one fatality. The cases are primarily in Chicago residents and African American MSM.

chicagoA potential seventh case is being investigated, with laboratory results pending.

This has prompted the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) to expand their meningitis vaccine recommendations to include all  gay and bisexual men. “Meningitis is a serious disease, but there is a safe and effective vaccine available,” said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, MD. “We are working with our partners to help stop the spread of disease, and we encourage anyone who is at risk to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated.”

This includes free vaccination clinics at various events that began Saturday and will continue through July 4.

The current outbreak in the Chicago area also served as a reminder for New York City, which saw meningitis outbreaks among MSM in previous years. This prompted New York City health officials to an alert to health care providers as a reminder.

Meningitis can cause symptoms including fever, headache and a stiff neck. Some people may experience nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and altered mental status or confusion. If you experience these symptoms, please consult a medical provider immediately. The disease spreads through prolonged, close contact with saliva that can include intimate kissing, sexual contact, sharing drinks or sharing marijuana and cigarettes.