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Small Outbreak of Serious Disease Identified

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) urges sexually active men who have sex with men
 (MSM) living with HIV, as well as MSM who have anonymous sex partners or use ‘hook up’ apps to identify
 sexual partners, to get vaccinated to prevent invasive meningococcal disease (IMD).

CDPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
 have recently identified a small outbreak of the rare but severe infection among MSM in Chicago. IMD can be deadly if left untreated. Since IMD was reported, CDPH has been closely monitoring each case, has 
determined that the outbreak is isolated to a specific subpopulation, and is working with community 
partners to spread the word and make vaccines available to target groups to protect the health of all
 of Chicago residents.

CDPH recommends that MSM who are HIV-positive and MSM who have anonymous sex partners contact their
 doctors or pharmacists to request the vaccine, which will protect them from infection. The vaccine is safe 
and effective. The vaccine is also available at no cost at CDPH clinics and partner sites, where co-pays 
may apply. Click here for a full list of CDPH and partner sites.

“Meningococcal disease is very serious but preventable,” said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, MD.
“Vaccines are available and we urge anyone who may be at risk to take the necessary precautions to 
protect themselves by getting vaccinated.”

Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness caused by the bacteria, Neisseria meningitidis. These illnesses 
include bloodstream infections and meningitis. Meningococcal disease can cause symptoms including 
fever, headache and a stiff neck. Some people may experience nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to 
light, and altered mental status or confusion. If you or your partner experience any of these
 symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Though less contagious than a common cold, the disease spreads through prolonged, close contact with 
saliva that can include intimate kissing, sexual contact, sharing drinks, or sharing marijuana and
 cigarettes. If you are a sexually active MSM in Chicago who is living with HIV or if you have had intimate
 or sexual contact with other men, particularly after using social “hook-up” apps to find them, you may be at risk for the disease. If you meet the above criteria, see your doctor or pharmacist to request a vaccine. If you are uninsured, visit
 www.cityofchicago.org/Health or call 311 to find a CDPH clinic or partner site.

In addition to receiving the vaccination, you can also protect yourself from the disease by frequent hand
washing, refraining from sharing drinks or smoking devices, and by practicing safe sex.
 As part of its efforts to educate and inform the public, CDPH has provided 
education materials to medical providers across Chicago and is working with local lesbian, gay, bisexual
 and transgender (LGBT) organizations to ensure the community has access to information. CDPH has 
contacted family members and close friends of infected individuals to provide preventative antibiotics 
and also set up a phone bank for healthcare providers to answer questions regarding vaccine 
distribution. For more information on how to protect yourself, download a CDPH fact sheet or palm card
 available at www.cityofchicago.org/Health.