The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is giving out free doses of the meningitis vaccine to men who have sex with men (MSM) after four gay men came down with cases of invasive bacterial meningitis in the Hollywood area this year,
Bacterial meningitis, also known as meningococcal disease, has been responsible for the deaths of at least seven gay men in New York since 2010 and at least another three in California and authorities are concerned about what may happen if there is a significant outbreak in Los Angeles.
‘All HIV-positive MSM and all MSM, regardless of HIV status, who regularly have close or intimate contact with multiple partners, or who seek partners through the use of digital applications, particularly those who share cigarettes, marijuana or use illegal drugs, should visit their health provider to be vaccinated against invasive meningococcal disease,’ Los Angeles Director of Public Health Jonathan E Fielding said Wednesday.
‘At- risk MSM who don’t have health insurance can obtain a free vaccination through the Department of Public Health.’
There have also been four heterosexually acquired cases of invasive bacterial meningitis in the city in the first quarter of 2014.
Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord and the most common symptoms are headache, fever, neck stiffness, confusion, vomiting and an inability to tolerate light or loud noises.
The meningitis vaccine will prevent invasive meningococcal disease from taking root but does not treat the disease if a person is already infected.