Outbreak of Meningococcal Disease in Florida: CDC Urges Gay Men to Get Vaccined

Rachita Salian
Rachita Salian
4 Min Read

As part of an effort to combat “one of the greatest outbreaks of meningococcal illness in the history of the United States among homosexual and bisexual males,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health are advising men who have copulation with men to receive meningitis vaccines. Meningococcal illness has killed seven people in Florida in recent weeks, with 24 of those fatalities occurring among homosexual and bisexual males, according to the state’s health department.

“Primarily among homosexual, bisexual, and other males who have copulation with males, including those living with HIV,” the CDC said in an official statement. Hispanic males are responsible for roughly half of the epidemic cases, according to recent statistics. People who reside in Florida are the primary victims of this epidemic, but those who have been to Florida have also been afflicted.”

Meningitis (infection of the meninges membrane lining the brain and spinal cord) and bloodstream sepsis are both examples of meningococcal infections. Both of these illnesses are lethal if left untreated for even a few days. The Florida epidemic has been linked to the meningococcal serogroups B and C, two distinct subspecies. Many homosexuals, bisexuals, and other males who have intercourse with men are infected with sarcoma serogroup C. Among college students in Leon County, meningococcal illness serogroup B is on the rise.


Prolonged close contact with respiratory or throat secretions, including saliva or spit, is a major vector for the bacteria’s transmission. Sexting or kissing may spread it, but it isn’t considered an STI since it isn’t passed on via the exchange of sexually transmitted body fluids like semen. Dr. José R. Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, stated in a statement from the CDC that the best method to avoid meningococcal disease is via vaccination.

“Gay and bisexual males who reside in Florida and those going to Florida should speak to their healthcare provider about receiving a MenACWY vaccination because of the epidemic in Florida and the number of Pride events that will be conducted throughout the state in the coming weeks.”

While the MenB vaccine protects against serogroup B, the MenACWY immunization protects against serogroups A, C, W, and Y. Meningococcal infections are more common in people with HIV because of their impaired immune systems. A meningococcal conjugate ACWY vaccination and subsequent booster doses are recommended for persons with HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

These outbreaks are caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacterium, yet many individuals have the bacteria in their bodies and do not get sick from it. It’s estimated that one in ten individuals have these germs at the back of their nose and throat, but they won’t feel sick until it gets into their bloodstream or the brain’s lining. The most prevalent serogroups in the United States are B, C, and Y.

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