The officials urge the members of the LGBT community to get vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of a meningitis outbreak.
Since May, seven new cases of meningitis appeared in gay men from Los Angeles. It seems that more than one case originated in Long Beach.
The county’s LGBT Center reports that since the beginning of the year, there were fewer calls concerning vaccination than in 2015. One possible explanation is that a 2014 vaccination campaign made many members of the community get the protection against meningitis.
A vaccine’s effect lasts for five years, and people may forget to renew the vaccination after this expiry date.
Meningitis proves to be fatal in one in 10 patients. The symptoms include high fever, confusion, headache, stiff neck and rash, and at the debut of the disease it can easily be confused with the flu.
“The number of infections among men, most of whom identify as gay or bisexual, is substantially more than would be expected. This is of great concern, and we want to ensure that individuals who are at risk get vaccinated and take other precautions to stop the spread of this deadly disease,” said the Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the Los Angeles County Health Officer.
Gay and bisexual men that have multiple partners are more at risk of getting the disease. Another factor that raises the risk is HIV, which lowers the immunity system and creates favorable conditions for infections.
The meningitis vaccinations are recommended for every person with HIV and all gay and bisexual men with a larger number of sexual partners. Individuals who seek partners through digital apps and those who share cigarettes, marijuana, or illegal drugs, are also urged to get the vaccine.
Since April, the number of cases in the state rose to 22 and one people died from the disease. Twelve of these cases were detected in LA County, five in Orange County and five in Long Beach.
Even if they are the most vulnerable group, only one out the 22 infected people was HIV positive.
The medical experts do not have yet an explanation as to why gay people are the most affected by the medical condition. The Centers for Diseases Control had already been requested to intervene and help in the situation, and hopefully, the merged efforts will bring an answer to the causes of the meningitis outbreak.
In Los Angeles, vaccines are available to anyone at no cost at the AIDS Project location.
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