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Meningococcal Outbreak in Southern California Proving to be High Risk for Gay or Bisexual Men

Jaclyn Hughes

The month of June has been a very stressful one full of tragedies for the LGBT community. First there was the horrendous shooting event at at Orlando nightclub on June 12th, where 49 innocent club goers were shot and killed as news revealed just for being gay, or inside a gay nightclub. This week it’s a major health scare with an apparent outbreak involving gay and/or bisexual males linked to having a meningococcal infection.

This disease initially identified back in May has since been diagnosed in 9 males in the Los Angeles area. Dr. Karen Smith who works for the California Department of Health as a public health officer, reported that thus far, one patient has sadly passed away already from the ailment. She went to advise the public that she feels gay and bisexual males alike are at a higher risk for developing the meningococcal illness. Smith encourages men who have sexual relations with other men to seriously consider getting the meningitis vaccine as soon as possible, especially if they reside in Southern California where the outbreak continues to grow.

If you happen to be living with HIV, you are also at a higher risk for obtaining the infection. It is additionally advised that anyone with HIV without question urgently get the meningitis vaccine to protect their health sooner than later. The President of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has asked leaders in the health field to not only spread awareness of this often fatal disease, but to up the amount of vaccines they should have readily available within communities.

The LA times has released some detailed information about the illness, reporting that it’s cause has been identified as the Neisseria meningitides bacteria that gets into the bloodstream and the result is meningitis. How does one contrive the infection? By close contact via sneezing, coughing, kissing, or having came into contact with mucus. The symptoms often start to appear within a few days of coming into contact with someone that has it. Patients commonly report fevers, rashes, terrible headache pains, neck pain, feeling confused or not totally up to par, or aches in the muscles. It can often be brushed off as a case of the flu, and end up causing numerous people to head to the emergency room often after it is simply too late.

If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of meningitis it is without question considered a medical emergency! Call your medical provider, or head to the local urgent care center to have testing done as you will need hospitalized if it is a case of meningitis. Thankfully, in more than half of the reported cases it can be cured once diagnosed and admitted to a clinic or inpatient setting.

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