NYC health dept. investigating meningitis cluster among gay men

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The New York City Health Department is investigating a cluster of invasive meningococcal disease – commonly known as meningitis – among gay men and men who have sex with men.

Invasive meningococcal disease, according to a news release, is a severe bacterial infection that has a high fatality rate.

Within the past four weeks in New York City, there have been four cases. One man has died and one man is in critical care.

The cases are spread across several boroughs and among men ages 31 to 42 years old.

The most recent four cases have all been among HIV infected men. People living with HIV are at a greater risk than the general population of acquiring invasive meningococcal disease and if infected, dying from infection.

The disease is spread by prolonged close contact with nose or throat discharges from an infected person. Examples of prolonged contact include living in the same household or intimate activities, including kissing and sexual contact.

Common symptoms of meningitis are high fever, headache, stiff neck and rash that develop rapidly within two days.

People who have been in prolonged close contact with infected people need to see their health care provider immediately to receive preventive antibiotics.

Symptoms may occur 2-10 days after exposure, but usually within five days.