Fifth meningococcal infection reported; city continues call for vaccinations

Sat. June 13, 2015 11:47 AM by News Staff

Howard Brown Health Center offering free meningococcal vaccinations

Chicago, IL - Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) officials confirmed Friday that a fifth case of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) has been reported in Chicago -- this one residing in suburban DuPage County.

Three people were initially infected with the disease when CDPH officials first issued a warning on June 3. One of those cases has proven to be fatal.

"This disease can kill, but vaccines are available," said Julie Morita, MD, Commissioner, CDPH. "Anyone at risk must get vaccinated to protect themselves and the community. By working with our community partners we can stop this disease before any more lives are claimed."

Health officials advise that men who have sex with men (MSM) who frequently engage in anonymous sexual activity should be vaccinated, as well as those who meet up with men through hook-up apps such as Grindr, Scruff and Jack'd. MSM's who are HIV-positive should be vaccinated as well.

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. IMD is spread through intimate activities such as kissing and sexual contact or sharing drinks or cigarettes, smoking devices or marijuana. Common symptoms are fever, headache and a stiff neck. Other accompanying symptoms include nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and confusion.

Since the announcement on June 3, Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC), in conjunction with the CDPH, issued a health advisory urging the target demographic to be vaccinated.

HBHC's Chief Clinical Officer Magda Houlberg, MD, emphasizes that more people need to come in in order to have full protection, especially with Pride Month activities coming up throughout the month.

"With Pride around the corner, there is a very real chance that these numbers could increase dramatically. We need individuals who are in this target demographic to come in at either one of our locations or another designated CDPH partner site throughout the city and get a free vaccination, not just for themselves, but to protect your friends, loved ones and others in the LGBTQ community," she said.

HBHC will offer vaccinations for low or no cost at its Sheridan, Aris Health or theBroadway Youth Center locations. Vaccinations are also available in numerous locations, and can be found online or by calling 311.

CDPH will be administering vaccinations on June 13 at two locations: Midsommarfest, at Brown Elephant Resale Shop, 5404 N. Clark Street, from 12-4 p.m. as well as at Jackson Park, at the corner of 63rd and Hayes, from 2-5 p.m.