Public Health England have released advise on the clusters of meningococcal disease in MSM in USA and Europe

An outbreak of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) (serogroup C) has been reported amongst men who have sex with men (MSM) in New York City, with 22 cases notified between August 2010 and February 2013. There have been seven deaths, five of which were among HIV-positive cases. New York City Health Department has been recommending vaccination for all men who had regular intimate contact with multiple male partners whom they met through a website, smartphone application, bar or party, in New York City since 1 September 2012. This recommendation was initially limited to known HIV-infected men but was later expanded to HIV-uninfected men with the same high risk behaviours.

Lisa Power, Policy Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Doctors have recently reported small clusters of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) (serotype C) among gay men in New York, Berlin and Paris. This is a type of meningitis. There have been a small number of deaths in those cities, particularly in men with HIV, and we are aware that news of this is spreading via social media and word of mouth.

“IMD type C is very rare in the UK, with around 30 cases a year overall. The UK has a vaccination programme which means that most men aged 35 and under will already have been vaccinated, and the vaccine is available free on the NHS to anyone under 25. An outbreak in London, or anywhere else in the UK, is therefore considered much less likely, but gay men who are concerned about the news can download an app about symptoms from the Meningitis Trust. All HIV and sexual health clinicians have had a briefing from Public Health England giving the facts.

“Realistically, if you’re out there partying this summer, you’re much more at risk of HIV, Hepatitis C, gonorrhoea or sunstroke. Take your suncream, condoms, and HIV treatment if you’re positive, and stay informed.”

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To find out the symptons of Meningitis visit: http://www.meningitis-trust.org