CDPH: Meningococcal disease case reported in Chicago

Wed. May 22, 2013 11:43 AM by News Staff

Chicago, IL - The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has reported a single case of meningococcal disease in a man, known to be a gay resident of Chicago, similar to those reported among gay and bisexual men in Los Angeles and New York earlier this year.

CDPH spokesperson, Brian Richardson, told that this is the only case reported in Chicago this year. "There is no reason to believe that there is an outbreak," he stressed.

Richardson said the man, whose case was reported to CDPH May 12, has fully recovered.

Public health officials have been on alert since Brett Shaad, a 33-year-old West Hollywood lawyer died April 12 after attending an Easter gathering for gay men in Los Angeles.

Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that can cause the lining around the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed. As many as 1 in 5 people who develop this meningitis have serious complications, including brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities and death. If caught early, it can be effectively treated with antibiotics.

Meningococcal disease can be spread through close contact with someone who is infected, especially through coughing, sneezing, and intimate contact like kissing. Health officials note that, though contagious, it is less contagious than the common cold.

Symptoms usually develop over seven to ten days and may include fever, severe headaches and a stiff neck as well as nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, confusion or decreased level of consciousness. People who have certain immune system deficiencies, including those who do not have spleens are at greater risk of infection.

CDPH recommends frequent hand washing, covering your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing and not sharing drinks or cigarettes. They also recommend safe sex practices and awareness of partner health issues.

Richardson said CDPH will have staff available at IML this weekend to answer questions.

If you believe you have been exposed to meningococcal disease or are experiencing the above symptoms, see a medical provider immediately.