State health officials have issued an advisory in Southern California following an outbreak of invasive meningococcal disease, primarily among gay and bisexual men.
Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacteria and can cause meningitis and bloodstream infections, known as sepsis. Although rare, meningococcal disease is serious and potentially fatal.
Since the beginning of May, nine meningococcal disease cases have been identified in men living in Los Angeles and Orange counties. One patient died as a result of the infection. Six of the cases are known to have been caused by a particular strain of meningococcal bacteria.
Several outbreaks and clusters of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men have been reported in New York City, Los Angeles County, and Chicago since 2014. Similar outbreaks have also been reported recently in Europe Many of those affected were infected with HIV.
"We are concerned that gay and bisexual men in Southern California may be at increased risk for meningococcal disease," said Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. "We encourage men who partner with other men to be aware of the risk of meningococcal disease and consider getting vaccinated."
HIV-infected people are at increased risk of contracting meningococcal disease. As a result, the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended this week that all HIV-infected persons 2 months and older be routinely vaccinated with the meningococcal vaccine.
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 who experience these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.