NYC Health is currently investigating three new meningitis cases in NYC among men who have sex with men.
What is meningococcal disease (often referred to as meningitis)?
Meningococcal disease is a severe bacterial infection that has a high fatality rate. A previous meningococcal outbreak among men who have sex with men in NYC ended in February 2013 after 22 cases were reported, including 7 fatal cases. Twelve of the 22 cases were HIV-infected.
What is the difference between meningitis and meningococcal disease?
These two terms are often used interchangeably, but meningococcal disease is the proper clinical term for the bacterial infection that affected these cases. Meningitis, meaning swelling of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, is a common outcome of meningococcal infection.
How is meningitis spread?
This 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, sharing cigarettes, or intimate activities, including kissing and sexual contact.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include fever, chill, severe muscle or abdominal pain, headache, vomiting, stiff neck and a rash, and usually occur within five days of exposure. If you think you may have been exposed and develop any of these symptoms, seek medical care immediately.
How can I protect myself?
The Health Department recommends meningococcal vaccination for all men who have sex with men, regardless of HIV status, who regularly have intimate contact with other men met through a website, hookup/dating apps, or at a bar or party.
Why are you targeting this population?
Everyone is susceptible to meningococcal infection, but for unknown reasons this particular strain is only affecting men who have sex with men. The Health Dept. is working to gather more information and to understand why men who have sex with men are at risk.
Where to get vaccinated?
Ask your provider about the meningococcal vaccine. The vaccine is also available at many pharmacies, including all NYC Duane Reade and Walgreens locations. These locations accept most insurance, including Medicaid.
No insurance? Vaccinations are also available at Health Dept. clinics. Clinics locations below:
Manhattanville Renaissance 21 Old Broadway (at 126th St.) 10027. Hours are Mon-Fri 8:30A-3:30P.
Central Harlem 2238 5th Ave (at 137th St.) 10037. Hours are Tue-Sat 8:30A-3:30P.
Morrisania 1309 Fulton Ave (at E 169th St.) 10456. Hours are Mon-Fri 8:30A-3P.
Fort Greene 295 Flatbush Ave, 2nd Fl. 11201. Hours are Tue-Sat 8:30A-3P.
Crown Heights 1218 1218 Prospect Pl 11213. Hours are Mon-Fri 8:30A-3:30P.
Corona 34-33 Junction Blvd 11372. Hours are Tue & Fri 8:30A-3P.
Jamaica 90-37 Parsons Blvd 11432. Hours are Tue-Sat 8:30A-3P.
You can also text VAXALERT to 877877 to search for vaccine locations near you. Learn more about meningitis in our FAQ.