Question

I’ve been reading about the frightening meningitis outbreaks with gay men in New York City? Articles suggest that if you use phone apps for anonymous hookups, that you’re more at risk. What’s THAT about? Should I be scared? I meet lots of guys that way, and my doctor doesn’t carry the vaccine. Where can I get the shot?

Worried Willy

 

Donna:

Hi Willy,

Here’s the scoop: Bacterial Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes over the brain which causes swelling. (This is 1 of 5 types of meningitis). It is caused by bacteria which means it can be treated and frequently cured with antibiotics. But, it is very serious, and can be fatal in not treated quickly.

Meningitis is¬†NOT SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED. Recent reported cases have all been among gay men, but that is because groups of infected guys were together in confined spaces, and the “germs” spread quickly by respiratory spray and close contact. This means kissing, coughing, any close face to face contact.

 

SYMPTOMS:

  • VERY STIFF NECK (unable to touch your chin to your chest)

  • SEVERE HEADACHE

  • FEVER (even over 100.4F if other symptoms occur too)

  • RAPIDLY SPREADING GENERALIZED BODY RASH

(All or most of these symptoms together require immediate hospitalization for IV antibiotic treatment)

 

VACCINE PREVENTION

New York City health officials recommend the meningitis vaccine (one injection) for HIV+ gay or bisexual men AND those who have had close or intimate contact with men they met via internet websites, apps or at bars or parties. That sounds like everyone you know, doesn’t it? Don’t be too scared. If you feel like you are or have been at risk, ask your doctor to write a prescription for you to take to the drug store, and have the PHARMACIST ADMINISTER THE VACCINE, if your doctor’s office or clinic does not carry it in stock. Call your local pharmacy first to be sure they will offer this service. We are not able to get this vaccine from the CT Health Department, so

THIS VACCINE IS NOT OFFERED AT THE HEALTH COLLECTIVE.

 

Meningitis vaccine is usually required for college admission and in the military because people will be in very close quarters. Find out if you have already been immunized, or if you may need a booster shot (if last given >5 years ago).

Meningitis is out there for sure, but IT ALWAYS HAS BEEN. This is a warning, not an epidemic. Use common sense and speak to your doctor to decide what is right for YOU! And remember…

 

Be well. Be yourself.