CHICAGO — Health officials in Chicago last week urged gay men, particularly those with HIV, to get vaccinated against invasive meningococcal disease after three cases have been confirmed according to the Chicago Department of Public Health according to CBS Chicago, the Windy City Times and other outlets.
Previously affecting gay men in New York and Los Angeles, the disease is considered rare but potentially fatal if left untreated. The Chicago Department of Public Health, which urged the vaccine especially for men with HIV or men who have anonymous partners and use “hook up” apps, said it has been carefully monitoring each case to determine if the outbreak is isolated to a specific subpopulation.
The vaccine is considered safe and effective and is available at many sites in Chicago and also in Washington. Though less contagious than the common cold, the disease is spread through prolonged, close contact with saliva that can include intimate kissing, sexual contact and sharing drinks, marijuana or cigarettes.
Last year in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported at least eight known cases of the disease, four of which were in men who have sex with men. Three of them died and were in their late 20s, the Times reported in April, 2014.