6 Dead amid Meningococcal Disease Outbreak Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in Florida: CDC

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Meningococcal meningitis
Meningococcal meningitis

Getty Meningococcal meningitis

Six people are dead and 24 cases have been reported amid an outbreak of meningococcal disease in Florida, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a Wednesday news release, the CDC said they are "recommending gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men get a meningococcal vaccine (MenACWY) if they live in Florida, or talk with their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated if they are traveling to Florida."

Along with "men who have sex with men," the Florida Department of Health is recommending vaccinations during the outbreak to all college/university students, immunocompromised people, people living with HIV and anyone who last received a MenACWY more than five years ago.

According to the CDC, "anyone can get a MenACWY vaccine at no cost at any county health department during the outbreak" in the state of Florida.

"Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious illness, which can quickly become deadly," Romero added in the CDC news release.

Meningococcal meningitis
Meningococcal meningitis

Getty Meningitis bacteria

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Symptoms of meningococcal disease "can appear suddenly and include high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea/vomiting, or a dark purple rash," the CDC said, noting that the disease "can first appear as a flu-like illness, but typically worsen very quickly."

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"Generally, it takes close or lengthy contact, such as kissing or being near someone coughing, to spread these bacteria," they said, explaining bacteria is passed "by sharing respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit)."

The CDC says meningitis, which is an infection of the spinal cord and brain lining, and bloodstream infection are the two most common types of meningococcal diseases.

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