As the country continues the battle against the global pandemic that we’ve all come to know as COVID-19, gay and bisexual men in Florida are battling another opponent that has reared its ugly head; a number of meningitis cases are being reported across the Sunshine State in the past few months.
According to a release from the CDC, they are primarily impacting college students and those living with HIV. A release from the Florida Dept. of Health Leon County is even more ominous, as it encourages anyone with symptoms to be seen by a health care professional immediately and says plainly “This is a rare but potentially devastating infection”.
Meningococcal disease is a much more deadly form of meningitis, which is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by the bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis (less contagious than germs that cause the common cold or flu). The disease can be contacted after long periods of close contact such as sharing a drink or intimately kissing. For every 100 people that contract the disease, it will prove fatal for 10 to 15 of them. Even more frightening, one in five of people who do recover can suffer long-term disabilities that range from deafness, loss of a limbs, or brain damage.
A sobering report from the Florida Dept. Of Health indicated that the number of cases in 2022 has surpassed the five-year average, and it is investigating three confirmed cases in Tallahassee in people ages 18 to 22. On the positive side, there is a treatment available to hopefully prevent contracting the disease. The CDC is encouraging “gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men” get a MenACWY vaccine if they live in the state of Florida. If traveling to Florida are in their upcoming travel plans, they are encouraged to talk to their own healthcare providers about getting a MenACWY vaccine prior to traveling.
Follow the CDC on their website