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Florida facing outbreak of meningococcal disease

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Posted at 9:28 AM, Jun 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-24 15:55:25-04

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it is investigating one of the "worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history" in Florida.

The CDC says at least 24 cases of meningococcal disease and six deaths among gay and bisexual men have been reported.

The agency is now recommending that men who have sex with men get a meningococcal vaccine.

“Because of the outbreak in Florida, and the number of Pride events being held across the state in coming weeks, it’s important that gay and bisexual men who live in Florida get vaccinated, and those traveling to Florida talk to their healthcare provider about getting a MenACWY vaccine," said Dr. José R. Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Florida is also investigating three confirmed cases of meningococcal disease in college students in Leon County. Their sexual orientation was not revealed.

Health officials say College and university undergraduate students, students living in on-campus housing, those who participate in a fraternity or sorority should also consider the vaccine.

The CDC says insurance providers should pay for the meningococcal vaccination "for those whom it is recommended for during an outbreak."

It adds that the vaccine is also provided for free at county health departments in Florida during the outbreak.

The CDC reminds the public that meningococcal can affect anyone. It's spread to others through saliva and spit, but usually takes "lengthy contact, such as kissing or being near someone coughing, to spread these bacteria."