NYC expands meningitis vaccine advisory

Nov. 29, 2012 at 11:55 PM

NEW YORK, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- The New York City Health Department issued new recommendations Thursday for vaccinating against invasive meningitis -- not fungal meningitis, officials said.

"Two new cases of meningitis among men who have sex with men were reported over the past five weeks, bringing the total to 11 cases over the past 12 months," health officials said in a statement. "Vaccinations are now advised for men, regardless of HIV status, who have had intimate contact with another man that he met through a website, digital application, or at a bar or party since Sept. 1 and live in the following neighborhoods: Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bushwick, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo, East New York, Prospect Heights and Williamsburg."

Many of the reported cases involve men who live in the aforementioned Brooklyn neighborhoods, officials said.

Vaccination prevents, but does not treat current infection. Common symptoms of meningitis are: high fever, headache, stiff neck, and rash that develop rapidly upon onset. Symptoms may occur two to 10 days after exposure, but usually within five days. People who experience these symptoms should seek medical care immediately, health officials said.

"People should first ask their healthcare provider if they have the vaccine," officials said. "For those who cannot obtain the vaccine from their health care provider, New York City Health Department clinics can administer the vaccine."

This contagious meningitis outbreak is not connected to the fungal meningitis, which was caused by contaminated injectable steroid methylprednisolone acetate of which some 14,000 doses were used to treat back and joint pain.

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