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Washington DC Urging the Community to Meningococcal Disease Vaccination

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Although Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia had several cases of meningococcal disease this year; multiple public-health officials are urging gay and bisexual men and all patients with an HIV infection to get vaccinated.

This is partly due to the reported ongoing outbreaks across the metro counties.

Public-health departments across the country are issuing similar recommendations regarding this outbreak of meningitis.

Whitman-Walker Health has urged gay, bisexual, and HIV positive men to get vaccinated against bacterial meningitis.

Washington DC Health service providers are preparing for the worst. For example, New York state health officials offered recommendations last year that any gay man or MSM (man who has sex with men) who is at least 18 years old of any HIV status who has had “intimate contact with a man” or “plan on having such contact in the future” should receive the vaccine.

Should Washington DC Do the Same?

Washington DC Health

Dr. Bruce Rashbaum, chief medical officer at Capital Medical Associates, said earlier this week headaches, fever and a stiff neck are the most common symptoms associated with meningitis.

It is spread through the respiratory system and oral secretions. And the incubation period of the bacterium is typically somewhere between three and seven days.

“It’s not a gay disease,” said Dr. Rashbaum. “It just happens to be spreading in the Washington DC metro gay community.”

Meningococcal disease is caused by neisseria meningitides, which is a tiny bacteria. This type of bacteria is easily passed from person to person by close contact—sipping, kissing, living in close proximity or sharing items such as drinking glasses, eating utensils, cigarettes, or soda or water bottles.

Infections sometimes turn into serious meningitis, a deadly swelling of the meninges, a membrane that covers the brain as well as the spinal cord.  Some patients suffer from deadly blood infections.

Internal Symptoms can include fever, intense headache, lethargy, neck stiffness, rash on skin. Anyone patient who suffers these symptoms should get to a hospital emergency room immediately.

Certain patients face the high risk of contracting meningococcal disease: these people who regularly visit crowded places such as bars, clubs, and parties, often.

People that have intimate contact with multiple partners, smoke, or use recreational drugs, or have HIV are at higher risks of contracting these bacteria.

For more information, call 202-822-6311.

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