Clinics To Remain Open All Weekend To Contain Meningitis Outbreak In Gay Chicago

Fri. October 24, 2003 12:00 AM by

Chicago, IL - Emergency immunization clinics will remain open throughout the weekend on Chicago's gay North Side, a week after three people died and three others were hospitalized with meningitis.

More than 12,000 people have been inoculated against the disease this week, and although there have been no new reported cases, health authorities say it is still to early to say the outbreak has been contained. (story)

All 6 cases of meningitis were traced to gay clubs on the North Side. Meningitis is transmitted through close, direct contact with others such as kissing or sex, but can also be spread through sneezing or coughing.

Symptoms generally include fever, severe headache, stiffness in the neck, rash, nausea, and vomiting. If not treated with antibiotics, the disease can become fatal quickly.

Using procedures set up to deal with potential terrorist attacks, the health department was instantly mobilized.

“Thus far, this is one of the most successful mobilizations of public health resources in the history of our city, and even of the nation,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. John Wilhelm.

“Seeing the dedicated public health workers, seeing the strong outpouring of response from all segments of the community, and seeing the way in which the news media and others helped us keep the tone measured and factual, reminds me of how the city successfully mobilized to defeat polio in the 1950s and ‘60s.

by Steph Smith Newscenter
Chicago Bureau
©® 2003

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.