National health officials warn of a growing meningitis outbreak in bisexuals. The word meningitis in itself means inflammation of the membrane. Meningitis can be life threatening due to the fact the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and the brain get intensely swollen. Symptom seen in patients affected with this disease are fever, headaches, nick stiffness, confusion, vomiting and sensitivity to light and noise. Meningitis can be passed on through activities like kissing, sharing a drink etc.
This Saturday marked the start the annual pride week in Chicago. The festival which draws about a million people saw national health officials asking all gay and bisexual men to get vaccinated against meningitis.
The Chicago department of public health commissioner, Dr Julie Morita revealed that six men in Chicago have been diagnosed with meningitis while one lost his life to the disease on Thursday.
The city health department and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that since all the cases coming in involved gay and bisexual men, recommendations should be expanded for meningitis vaccines to include all gay and bisexuals.
In the past all HIV positive men were recommended for the vaccine but after the new reports of patients who are HIV negative but still contracted the disease, City officials decided to use the weekend’s event to make sure all such men get vaccinated or at least get access to the vaccine.
Christopher Barrett Politan, executive director of the Northalsted Business Alliance, which organizes pride festivities, stated that in collaboration with the Chicago department of public health, many organizations will be offering free meningitis vaccinations. Even after the pride week has ended, vaccines will still be offered.
Throughout the festival people will be informed of the risks of contracting meningitis and the importance of getting vaccinated.
Dr. Morita stated that it is important to use good judgment about how much contact you have with strangers, because even beside meningitis, one does not what diseases people are carrying, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea or even the common cold.”
Even if caught in the earlier stages , meningitis can cause hearing loss and brain damage.
It takes 10-14 days for the vaccine to effect, so technically men who have taken the shot could still be at risk.
2013 saw the death of 3 gay men from meningitis, Chicago is working hard to make sure that it does not happen again.