Deadly Meningitis Outbreak Hits NYC Gay Community

Tara Dodrill

New York City, NY – A deadly meningitis outbreak in NYC is significantly impacting gay men. New York health officials are recommending every sexually active gay man not in a monogamous relationship to get a meningitis vaccination immediately.

The CDC describes the meningitis disease as a condition caused by inflamed membranes that offer a protective covering around the brain and spinal cord. The membranes are known as meninges. The health alert aimed at gay men in NYC was issued two weeks ago, but was not widely reported upon until more recently.

An excerpt from the New York City Health Department release about the deadly meningitis outbreak issued new recommendations today for vaccinating against "invasive meningococcal disease" after the increase in reported cases. The vaccinations were advised for men, regardless of HIV status, who regularly have "intimate contact" with other men met through a website, bar, digital app, or at a party."

NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said that the meningitis symptoms typically come on rapidly. The health official also noted that if not treated quickly, meningitis can be fatal. Routinely, meningitis kills every one in five patients. The strain now reportedly circulating among gay men in New York City kills every one in three patients.

Common symptoms of meningitis include a stiff neck, high fever, a rapidly developing rash, and a headache. The symptoms reportedly begin two to 10 days after the exposure to meningitis. Typically, the symptoms present within five days, according to a NYC Health Department release.

America Blog journalist John Aravosis feels that bigotry and hatred helped "fuel" the meningitis threat now experienced by NYC gay men. Aravosis noted in a column about the deadly outbreak that if gay men had been raised in a society that taught them they could find love and ultimately marry, more men would be settled down with a spouse and not as likely to catch such a disease.

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