San Francisco health officials want gay and bi men, as well as transgender women, to get vaccinated for meningococcal disease “if they expect to have close or intimate contact” with gay or bi men who live in or who have traveled from Los Angeles.
On April 2, according to the San Francisco Public Health Department, Los Angeles County authorities reported eight confirmed cases for 2014 “of invasive meningococcal disease.” Four of the cases were in gay and bi men, and Los Angeles’s Health Department has recommended vaccination for all local gay and bi men.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness that is caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitides …. The illness most people are familiar with is meningococcal meningitis, which people sometimes just call meningitis.”
Officials describe the disease as “a rare but serious infection” that “can cause people to rapidly become very ill with high fevers, headache, and stiff neck (meningitis), or high fevers and a skin rash (septicemia).”
Local health officials said in a Thursday, April 24 news release, “In San Francisco, there is no outbreak of meningococcal disease in any group.” However, local authorities “are taking action” in order to encourage vaccination among some people.
Those who develop the symptoms should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. The disease may be fatal or result in permanent brain damage, among other problems.
The disease may be transmitted through sharing drinks, kissing, and sex, among other methods.
Despite the warning, officials stated, “At this time in San Francisco, there is no outbreak of meningococcal disease in any group.”
Vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective, but people are encouraged to check with health care providers or go to the health department’s Adult Immunization and Travel Clinic at 101 Grove Street, Room 102.
For more information visit sfcdcp.org/healthalerts.html or sfcdcp.org/meningococcal.html.