Meningococcal Disease Outbreak in Chicago, MSM Urged to Get Vaccinated

For at least the second time in recent years, a small but alarming outbreak of meningococcal disease has occurred among men who have sex with men.

Reported in the GLMA online update:

Chicago health officials have noted a small, but serious outbreak of meningococcal disease has been detected in the Chicago area with now four confirmed cases in a short period of time. Chicago health officials are recommending gay men, especially those living with HIV, receive a vaccination for the disease. “”We really want to interrupt the spread of exposure and we want people to hear the urgency of this call,” said David Munar, President and CEO of Howard Brown Health Center in a Windy City Times article on June 5, 2015.

More recently, the Chicago Tribune has reported on a vaccination campaign: “Chicago and national health officials are urging all gay and bisexual men to get vaccinated for meningitis, a potentially fatal bacterial disease responsible for the death of one man in a small but growing outbreak in the city.” Details here:

Particularly at risk are “HIV-positive men who have sex with other men, men having anonymous sex with other men, and men using ‘hook-up’ apps to find sexual partners.” In addition, “African-American men have been disproportionately affected by this current outbreak.”

Bacterial rather than viral meningitis, this form of meningococcal disease can cause symptoms that “include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, confusion and increased sensitivity to light.” Left untreated it can quickly cause death, but, even if survived, patients may experience brain damage or hearing loss.

Vaccination locations in Chicago can be found here:

For current information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, visit here:


About Thomas Lawrence Long

Associate professor-in-residence, School of Nursing, University of Connecticut; editor and writing coach
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