NewsDesk @bactiman63

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) is reporting an outbreak of meningococcal disease in 2022, primarily among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, including those living with HIV. The outbreak is mostly affecting people who live in Florida, but has also affected some people who have traveled to Florida.

Meningitis symptoms/Public domain image/Mikael Häggström

Thus far, the number of cases identified in 2022 surpasses the 5-year average of meningococcal disease cases in Florida.

According to FDOH data, 21 cases of meningococcal disease have been reported from 10 counties with Orange, Leon and Lake counties reporting the most with six, three and three cases, respectively.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the two most common types of meningococcal infections are meningitis (an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and bloodstream infection, both of which can quickly become deadly.

In response to an ongoing outbreak of meningococcal disease in Florida, state health officials are recommending all gay and bisexual men living in the state get vaccinated with one dose of a MenACWY vaccine to help protect against meningococcal disease.

In addition, college and university students and immunocompromised individuals should consider vaccination with a meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY) vaccine during this outbreak.

Florida health officials say this is a serious disease caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. Fortunately, these bacteria are not as contagious as germs that cause the common cold or flu. People do not catch the bacteria through casual contact or by breathing air where someone with meningococcal disease has been. It requires close contact over a period of time, or direct contact such as kissing or sharing drinks.

Early symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, confusion, and rash. Anyone who has been exposed or develops symptoms should be evaluated by a health care provider immediately. This is a rare but potentially devastating disease.