Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Meningitis Outbreak – Should You Protect Yourself Prior to Major Events?
By now, most of you have seen the news stories regarding meningitis outbreaks that were initially isolated to New York but have now moved to Los Angeles. If we have learned nothing else from the early days of the AIDS plague, it should be that early response trumps a reactive-scramble to matters of public-health. It is not my intent to sound the alarm over meningitis however, it is something that needs to be watched quite carefully. With several major leather events, CLAW & IML on the horizon, attendees need to be fully informed regarding what it is and how they can protect themselves.
Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord and the most common symptoms are headache, fever, neck stiffness, confusion, vomiting and an inability to tolerate light or loud noises. Meningitis is contracted through “close contact” not simple casual contact, examples of this would be: kissing, coughing, sneezing, sharing eating utensils, glasses, food or towels. Although meningitis is not transmitted exclusively through sexual intercourse, most of the above stated activities occur during sexual contact. It is for this reason that I urge anyone attending major leather events or parties such as CLAW or IML to consider getting vaccinated. There is considerable evidence which supports the idea that the LA patient was exposed during a White Party over Easter Weekend.
The New York City Health Department has suggested that gay men in New York “who regularly have intimate contact with other men through a website, digital application, or at a bar or party” might consider getting vaccinated. This simply means that this group is at higher risk for exposure to meningitis due to the activities that they are engaged in regularly.
Getting vaccinated as a precaution poses no risk to your health. It will take approximately 2 weeks from the initial date of vaccination for the full-benefits of the vaccination to be seen. Additionally individuals who are HIV positive may require a secondary booster to be fully protected. The meningitis vaccine will prevent invasive meningococcal disease from taking root but does not treat the disease if a person is already infected.