Meningococcal disease outbreak in Chicago, MSM urged to get vaccinated

Wed. June 3, 2015 7:56 PM by News Staff

Chicago Department of Public Health urges men who have sex with men to get vaccinated for invasive meningococcal disease

Chicago, IL - The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) Wednesday announced that they have been investigating three confirmed cases of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the Chicago area.

IMD is a rare communicable bacterial disease that can cause meningitis, a severe disease of the brain and spinal cord, and other potentially fatal conditions.

CDPH is now recommending expanded vaccination for this bacterial infection for the following groups: MSM who are HIV-positive, MSM regardless of HIV status who use online apps such as Grindr, A4A, Scruff, Jack'd, and MSM who have anonymous sex. 

IMD is spread through intimate activities such as kissing and sexual contact or sharing drinks or cigarettes, smoking devices or marijuana. These bacteria are not as contagious as the viruses that cause the common cold. 

Signs and symptoms include fever, headache and a stiff neck. Accompanying symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and altered mental status (confusion). If you are experiencing these symptoms please call your doctor or call 311.

In response, Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC) has issued a Health Advisory to its gay, bisexual, queer and other MSM constituents, encouraging those who fit into the target population to come in and be screened, vaccinated and treated if necessary.  

HBHC Walk-In Clinic, 4025 N. Sheridan Rd., will offer vaccinations for low or no cost; no appointment needed. Monday - Thursday: Noon - 7 pm; Fridays: 9 am - 4 pm; Saturdays: 9 am - 2 pm