BY TROY MASTERS | Three new cases, including one additional death, has been reported in the Southern California Outbreak of Invasive Meningococcal Disease, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
In it’s press release Orange County immediately urges all gay men to get vaccinated against the disease, leading some to speculate that the death and or the new cases involved gay men. Orange County officials declined to specify the ethnicity or the sexual orientation of either the person who died or the newly identified cases, citing federal laws on patient confidentiality known as HIPAA.
It is not yet know why the current outbreak is so disproportionately impacting the gay male and MSM community. More than half of the 27 cases and 2 deaths reported in the current outbreak have been among gay men, primarily black and latino.
The outbreak, which was reported in June by the California Department of Public Health, has been occurring in the last several months in Southern California, particularly in Orange and Los Angeles Counties.
Los Angeles County has reported 15 cases and no deaths as of August 5, 2016. 8 of those cases are among MSM.
LA County Health officials were slow to call differentiate the cases as an official outbreak.
The Pride is investigating reports of cases in San Diego and in San Francisco that may be related.
Meningococcal disease is caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria, which are transmitted from person-to-person through respiratory droplets, during face-to-face or prolonged contact, or by sharing utensils, drinks or cigarettes. It is a serious infection that can cause meningitis (brain infection) and/or bacteremia (blood infection), and can lead to death. Initial symptoms can include fever, body aches, stiff neck and/or headache, and symptoms can progress quickly to confusion and shock. A rash with small, flat, non-itchy red spots can occur. Persons experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.
Meningococcal disease is treatable if identified early on.
The County of Orange Health Care Agency along with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, recently expanded vaccination recommendations for meningococcal disease to include all gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, in addition to all persons with HIV infection.
If you haven’t been vaccinated in the last 5 years you are at risk.