Chicago Department of Public Health ( CDPH ) officials announced, on April 12, that two more cases of meningococcal meningitis have been identified in the Chicago area, and are asking that gay and bisexual men get vaccinated against the infection.
The two infected individuals were linked to the same serogroup that infected seven other people between May and July of 2015. One of those seven individuals died from the infection. In all nine cases, the patients were men who have sex with men ( MSM ). The 2015 episodes sparked an aggressive push from CDPH to get Chicago gay and bisexual men vaccinated.
African Americans, MSM and HIV-positive MSM are most disproportionately affected by this current outbreak, said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, MD, in a press conference.
"All gay and bisexual men in Chicago should get vaccinated if they have not received a vaccine in the past five years," she added. MSM with HIV should get two doses, spaced about eight weeks apart, in order for the vaccine to work most effectively.
"In general, this infection can affect people of any type, not just gay and bisexual men," Morita said. "[But] this particular outbreak is affecting disproportionately African American, gay and bisexual men, and [MSM] with HIV. This disease is transmitted through saliva, so sharing glasses, cigarettes, kissingthose types of interactions increase the opportunity for spreading it."
Howard Brown Health President and CEO David Munar said, "This is a very important call to action right now, in the spring, as we head into a very busy summer season, where Chicagoans turn out for festivals. There are many events where individuals are going to be in close proximity, including Pride and other summer festivals."
Low- and no-cost vaccination locations are listed on CDPH's website at bit.ly/1Jr8C9M .