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Gay and bisexual men urged to vaccinate against meningococcal after Melbourne outbreak

Gay men are being urged to get vaccinated against meningococcal disease after a sudden outbreak in Melbourne.

Health authorities are offering a free vaccine from today after eight men were struck down with the disease's C-strain since May.

Victoria's deputy chief health officer, Brett Sutton, said almost all the patients identified as gay or bisexual.

"Eight doesn't sound like a big number, but if this were to affect the whole of Melbourne at the same rate as it's affected men who have sex with men, we'd be talking about a couple of hundred cases over a few months," he said.

Meningococcal disease is uncommon but it can be deadly.

Ten per cent of cases are fatal within 24 to 48 hours of diagnosis.

The bacteria lives in the throat and nose and is passed on through close and prolonged contact.

"That includes intimate kissing and we think that's what's driving transmission in this outbreak," Dr Sutton said.

Patients in the high-risk group who come down with a high fever, headache and light sensitivity should see their doctor or go to hospital.

Men can get the vaccine from their local GP as of today.


NYC Health Dept. calls for LGBTIQ Visitors and residents to get vaccinated

The New York City Health Department has issued new vaccination recommendations today for persons who may be most at risk for developing an newly discovered strain of invasive meningococcal disease – commonly known as meningitis – after an increase in cases throughout the city.


It has been advised that visitors to NYC may also want to get themselves vaccinated against the disease.


Vaccinations are now advised for men that have sex with men (MSM), regardless of HIV status, who regularly have intimate contact with other men met through a website, digital application (“App”), or at a bar or party.


The four newest cases of meningitis reported since the beginning of January, among men who have sex with men (MSM), have brought the total number of cases reported to 17 cases since 2012.


There have been 22 reported cases – including seven fatal cases – since 2010.


“Meningitis symptoms usually come on quickly, and the disease can be fatal if not treated right away,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “Vaccination is the best defense. I urge all men who meet these criteria – regardless of whether they identify as gay – to get vaccinated now and protect themselves from this disease before it is too late.”


“The City Council is working with the Health Department to make sure that New Yorkers know how to protect themselves from invasive meningococcal disease,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn.


“While the rise in cases of the disease commonly known as meningitis is concerning, particularly for men who are HIV-positive or who have sex with men, vaccines and treatments are available. The City is also offering information and resources on the web and through 311. The Council will work to ensure that the public is educated about this disease and the increased risk so that New Yorkers are armed with the information they need to protect themselves and their loved ones.”


“Meningitis is a serious health issue and those in at-risk communities need to take every possible precaution for their own protection and the protection of their peers,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “I strongly recommend all men who have intimate contact with other men get vaccinated. This disease is both potentially fatal and extremely contagious, so increasing the public’s awareness to this growing issue and encouraging vaccination are of the utmost importance.”


The New York City Health Department also continues to recommend vaccinations for all HIV-positive men who have sex with men, as well as women.


Individuals who are not sure if they meet the criteria, such as bi-sexual men, are being advised to discuss their need for vaccination with their current health care providers.


Meningitis can be fatal if not treated promptly.


A vaccination will prevent current infection, but will not treat this new strain of meningitis or any other type on meningitis for that matter.


Some of the more common symptoms of meningitis Include:

    High fever
    Stiff neck
    A rash that develops rapidly upon onset


Symptoms may occur at anytime, anywhere from 2 to 10 days after exposure, but usually within the first 5 days.


People who experience any of these symptoms should seek prompt medical attention immediately.


People seeking to get vaccinated should first ask their health care providers if they have the vaccine available, and for those who cannot obtain the vaccine from their health care providers, Health Department clinics can administer the vaccine.

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