Ramsey County death prompts vaccination warning for gay men

The Minnesota Department of Health issued a warning Friday urging men who have sex with men to get vaccinated for meningococcal meningitis as soon as possible. 

The vaccination warning follows the July 11 death of an unidentified Ramsey County man. The man was in 40s and infected with serogroup C Neisseria meningitidis, the bacteria that can cause serious illness that often progresses rapidly and is fatal in about 10-15 percent of cases. This is the same serogroup that has caused the outbreak in Chicago. He was also HIV-infected, the state health department said,  "which placed him at greater risk for serious illness from the meningococcal meningitis."

There have been accounts of recent outbreaks of the same meningitis strain within gay communities in New York and Los Angeles. Chicago is currently dealing with 7 cases, including a death. The state health department said a majority of the confirmed meningococcal meningitis cases in the Chicago area were also in individuals that were HIV positive.

 “Our concern is because we haven’t seen a meningitis outbreak in a long time," MN Aids Project spokesman Matt Toburen said. 

While meningitis is a very rare disease, it can be deadly. The disease has a 10 to 15 percent death rate.

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More information: Meningococcal Disease