Meningococcal disease: CDC reports outbreak among worst in history

The CDC is currently investigating an outbreak of meningococcal disease in Florida.
The CDC is currently investigating an outbreak of meningococcal disease in Florida.(LukaTDB via canva)
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 4:47 PM CDT
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(Gray News) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health are investigating a meningococcal disease outbreak.

Officials said at least 24 cases and six deaths have currently been reported among gay and bisexual men.

The CDC reports this is one of the worst outbreaks involving the disease in U.S. history and is recommending gay and bisexual men get a meningococcal vaccine (MenACWY).

“Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious illness, which can quickly become deadly,” said Jose Romero, director at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

According to the CDC, anyone can get a meningococcal disease vaccine in Florida at no cost at any county health department during the outbreak.

“It’s important that gay and bisexual men who live in Florida get vaccinated, and those traveling to Florida talk to their healthcare provider about getting a MenACWY vaccine.”

Officials said symptoms of the meningococcal disease could appear suddenly, including high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea/vomiting, or a dark purple rash. Symptoms can first appear as a flu-like illness but typically worsen very quickly.

The CDC reports it takes close or lengthy contact for people to spread meningococcal bacteria, but it can be passed through kissing or being near someone coughing.

Meningococcal disease can affect anyone and can be deadly. The disease includes infections of the lining of the brain, spinal cord and bloodstream.

Officials said keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best protection against meningococcal disease.

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