The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is urging all gay and bisexual men and any HIV-infected individuals to get vaccinated against meningococcal disease as an ongoing Southern California outbreak continues to spread.
There have been 22 confirmed cases since March in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, according to the CDPH. Two people have died from the disease. Officials say most of the reported cases have been in gay or bisexual men.
There are no reported cases in San Diego County, but health officials are advising residents to get vaccinated as a preventative measure.
Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial infection that can cause meningitis and bloodstream infections (sepsis) and can be fatal. The disease can be transmitted through close personal contact with an infected individual by respiratory droplets from the nose and throat.
Symptoms of the disease include fever, severe headaches, vomiting, rash, stiff neck and muscle pain. Anyone experiencing these symptoms is asked to seek medical care.
“Vaccination is the best protection against meningococcal disease,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith in a statement. “It is important that all gay and bisexual men and people living with HIV in the affected counties take action to protect themselves to reduce their risk.”
According to the CDPH, any individuals who regularly frequent crowded venues such as bars or parties, use illegal drugs, smoke cigarettes, marijuana, hookahs or spend time in areas where smoke is present, may be at an increased risk of getting infected.
The CDPH recommends that all gay and bisexual men as well as people living with HIV should receive the Men ACWY vaccine. HIV-infected individuals should receive two doses of the vaccine.