Gay Chicago men warned after two new meningitis cases confirmed

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The Chicago Department of Public Health is urging sexually active gay and bisexual men to get vaccinated against meningitis after two new cases were confirmed among men in the city Tuesday.

The latest cases are connected to seven others from a local outbreak last summer, all in men who have sex with men, according to the CDPH. One man died from the disease last June.

“Meningitis still poses a serious threat to all men who have sex with men in Chicago,” city Health Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita said in a statement. “If you have not been vaccinated within the last 5 years, you could be at risk.”

Anyone can contract meningococcal meningitis, but black men who have sex with men and those living with HIV are most at-risk, according to the CDPH.

Symptoms of meningitis include fever, headache and stiff neck, which may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and general confusion, according to the CDPH. Even with antibiotics, at least one in 10 people who develop this form of the disease is expected to die from it.

The department recommends that all gay and bisexual men get vaccinated, noting that HIV-positive men will need two vaccinations at least eight weeks apart. CDPH is partnering with Walgreens, and 80 clinical and community groups to get the vaccine to affected populations.

For more information about meningitis and low- or no-cost vaccinations, visit the CDPH website.