Meningitis outbreak in Chicago's gay community

Health officials in Chicago say last summer's deadly outbreak of meningitis in gay and bisexual men is continuing with two new confirmed cases.

The Chicago Department of Public Health says this brings the total to nine cases linked to the outbreak, all in men who have sex with men. One man died last June.

The department says the outbreak is disproportionately affecting men with HIV and black men.

The department recommends vaccinations to all men who have sex with men, and is making affordable vaccines available around the city. A list of clinics and pharmacies can be found on the department's website.

It can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to kick in. Health officials are urging men to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.

People who have had vaccines in the past might need booster shots.

Meningitis is transmitted through saliva, often by sharing drinks or cigarettes, and kissing. Symptoms including fever, headache, and stiff neck can show up 2–10 days after exposure.

Meningitis outbreaks have occurred in other gay communities over the past decade, including significant outbreaks in New York and Toronto. Outbreaks also occur in college dormitories on a fairly regular basis.

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