Health

Health officials urge all gay men to get meningitis vaccine

In this file photo, people receive a free meningitis vaccine from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation pharmacy on April 15, 2013 in Hollywood, California. About 19 people have reportedly contracted the disease so far in 2016 in Los Angeles County, with about half of them identifying as gay or bisexual.
In this file photo, people receive a free meningitis vaccine from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation pharmacy on April 15, 2013 in Hollywood, California. About 19 people have reportedly contracted the disease so far in 2016 in Los Angeles County, with about half of them identifying as gay or bisexual.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Health officials in Southern California are urging all gay and bisexual men to get the meningitis vaccine after observing an increase in cases of invasive meningococcal disease, a potentially deadly infection.

The Daily News reports Tuesday's alert broadens a previous recommendation earlier this month.

The newspaper says 19 people have contracted the disease this year in Los Angeles County, including six from Long Beach. About half of them identify as gay or bisexual. Orange County has had four cases — including one death.

Meningococcal disease can develop rapidly and is fatal in about one in 10 patients. All 11 diagnosed have survived.

Health departments are advising men who regularly have close or intimate contact with multiple partners as well as those who share cigarettes or use illegal drugs to get the meningitis vaccine.