Meningococcal Disease

04/02/2014 1:24 pm2 commentsViews: 47
Photo by Gary McCarthy

Photo by Gary McCarthy

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Eight people in Los Angeles County have been
diagnosed with invasive meningococcal disease this year, health officials
announced today as they issued a call for gay men to be vaccinated against the
potentially fatal ailment.
According to the county Department of Public Health, three of the eight
patients either lived or were known to socialize in the West Hollywood or North
Hollywood areas. The county plans to offer free vaccinations to people without
health insurance beginning tomorrow.
Dr. Jonathan Fielding, head of the county health department, said men
who have sex with other men should be vaccinated — especially those who find
partners online or who share cigarettes, marijuana or illegal drugs.
Of the eight cases reported in the county, four involved men who have
sex with other men, including three who were HIV-positive, according to the
County DPH officials consulted with state health experts and the Centers
for Disease Control and prevention, and they recommended vaccinations for all
men who have sex with men, regardless of whether they consider themselves gay
or bisexual, and regardless of their HIV status.
Health officials noted that the risk of contracting IMD is low among the
general population, noting that the bacteria is less contagious than viruses
that cause the flu. Activities that can put people at risk of the disease
– smoking, including marijuana, cigarettes and hookah;
– close contact with an infected person, including sharing beverages or
cigarettes, kissing and coughing; and
– staying in group setting such as dorms, jails or shelters for
extended periods.
The infection can cause brain damage, hearing loss or potentially death.
Symptoms can include fever, stiff neck, skin rash, severe headaches, low
blood pressure and muscle pain. The disease spreads quickly, so fast diagnosis
and treatment is “imperative,” health officials said.
The county plans to offer free vaccines to residents without health
insurance beginning tomorrow. A list of clinics is available by calling the
county information line at 2-1-1 or online at


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