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Deadly Meningitis On the Rise Among Men, DOH Warns

By Stefanie DeAngelo | March 22, 2013 4:47pm
 A fatal meningitis outbreak has prompted the DOH to warn men who have sex with men to get vaccinated.
A fatal meningitis outbreak has prompted the DOH to warn men who have sex with men to get vaccinated.
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MANHATTAN — Bacterial meningitis is on the rise among men in New York, according to the NYC Department of Health.

According to to a DOH statement issued earlier this month, four new cases of meningitis have been reported since the beginning of January, bringing the total number of reported cases to 17 since 2012 — with three of the last five cases resulting in death. 

All four of the cases that were diagnosed in 2013 were found in “men who have sex with other men,” according to the statement.

The DOH advised “men who regularly have intimate contact with other men met through a website, digital application...or at a bar or party” to get vaccinated — regardless of their HIV status.

The agency has been on the alert for the deadly strain of meningitis, which they reportedly believe surfaced in 2005 or 2006, which they said has been striking men who have sex with men, according to the New York Times.

According to the Times, officials have had a hard time getting the word out to those vulnerable to the infection, because many of those in the population do not identify as gay and do not follow alerts intended for the gay population.

The infection's symptoms include fever, headaches, neck aches and skin rash, which typically show up between two - 10 days after exposure, experts said. The symptoms should be treated immediately, the DOH said.

Recently reported cases erupted across all five boroughs and various city politicians have expressed their concern.

“It is very distressing to learn that one of the reported meningitis cases was in my district,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras in a statement. “As a member of the Health Committee, I strongly urge all New Yorkers to heed the advice of the Department of Health.”

To find a vaccination location, call 311. For more information, search “meningitis” at nyc.gov.