By Sandra Rose  | 

Gary John Norman / Image Source

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a warning about a Meningococcal outbreak affecting gay and bisexual men living with HIV in Florida.

Meningococcal disease is caused by an infection due to the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. The bacterium can cause meningitis and a life-threatening blood infection called meningococcemia (septicemia).

Meningitis and meningococcemia are medical emergencies. Meningococcemia (sepsis) can kill in as little as a few hours.

iStock / Getty Images Plus

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is a potentially deadly and highly infectious disease that causes inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

Symptoms of meningitis include fever, headache, and neck stiffness, sensitivity to bright lights, nausea, vomiting, and confusion.

What is Meningococcemia Septicemia?

Meningococcemia is a deadly blood infection caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. It multiplies in the bloodstream and damages the walls of blood vessels causing multiple organ failure. Patients diagnosed with Meningococcemia septicemia are treated in the intensive care unit (ICU) isolation room to prevent infecting other patients in ICU.

Signs and symptoms of meningococcemia (sepsis) include flu-like symptoms, fever, chills, fatigue, weakness, nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhea, and severe aches and pains in the muscles, joints, chest and/or abdomen. Cold feet and hands usually appear before a skin rash.

Contact your health care provider or go to an emergency room if you are experiencing symptoms.

According to the CDC, gay and bisexual men living with HIV and other men who have sex with men should get the MenACWY vaccine ASAP if they live in Florida.

The CDC also recommends the vaccine for gay or bisexual men planning to visit Florida.

The Florida Department of Health in Leon County is investigating three confirmed cases of meningococcal disease in males in Tallahassee aged 18 to 22.

The CDC urges male college and university students, immunocompromised individuals, men living with HIV and other men who have sex with men to get vaccinated against the disease immediately.