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Meningitis Vaccination Recommended for all Gay Men: NYC Health Officials Say

Mar 23, 2013 05:44 AM EDT

New York health officials are now urging men who have sex with men to get vaccinated against meningitis. According to the New York City Department for Health and Mental Hygiene, the vaccinations are recommended for all men, regardless of HIV status.

Since 2010, there have been 22 reports of meningitis, of which seven were fatal. The disease is known to quickly escalate from fever and headache to rash and death. The deadly infection is appearing mostly in gay men who have met through websites, apps or bars and parties, the agency said. The cases have been reported from throughout the five boroughs.

"Vaccination is the best defense. I urge all men who meet these criteria - regardless of whether they identify as gay - to get vaccinated now and protect themselves from this disease before it is too late," said Dr. Thomas Farley, Health Commissioner, in a statement from the agency.

The symptoms of the infection are high fever, headache, stiff neck, and rash. People experiencing these symptoms are advised to seek medical care immediately, the agency said.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease, if left untreated, can result in brain damage or in some cases, death. There have been about 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis, including 500 deaths, in the U.S. between 2003 and 2007.

People can find vaccination dispensaries using the Site Locator or by calling 311. 

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