There are currently two outbreaks of meningococcal disease in Florida with two serotypes of the disease being found in different populations. There is an ongoing outbreak of serogroup C meningococcal disease among men who have sex with men in Florida as well as a cluster of serogroup B meningococcal disease cases among college and university students in Leon County.
Meningococcal disease is an illness caused by a type of bacteria and spread through the exchange of respiratory or throat secretions like spit and saliva during close or lengthy contact, such as kissing or living in the same household or dormitory. Though outbreaks are rare, meningococcal disease can be very deadly killing 10-20% of those who become infected. Vaccines for meningococcal disease are recommended for all children, teens, and others who may be at increased risk to reduce risk of transmission.
The statewide outbreak of serogroup C, which is primarily among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM), is on track to be the largest meningococcal disease outbreak among MSM in U.S. history. More info is available at Meningococcal Disease in Florida, 2022 | CDC. Florida Department of Health put out a Health Alert Network (HAN) update in late May, which can be found here: Important Updates for Meningococcal Disease and Hepatitis A (flhealthsource.gov).
In response to this outbreak, CDC recommends MSM living in Florida get vaccinated against meningococcal disease with a MenACWY vaccine. Some may have received the MenACWY vaccine as a teenager, but anyone who believes they may be at risk of infection should talk to a healthcare provider about getting a booster. While this outbreak is mostly affecting people who live in Florida, it has also affected some people who have traveled to the state. In light of this and the busy summer travel season, CDC encourages MSM who are traveling to Florida to talk with their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated too. Ideally, people should get vaccinated with one dose (or the 2-dose series for people living with HIV) at least 2 weeks before traveling.
In addition, CDC is highlighting that MenACWY vaccination is routinely recommended for all people living with HIV in the United States, as well as people living with sickle cell disease and other conditions.
Here are some additional resources aimed at reducing risk of infection:
- Summer 2022 Health Tips for Gay and Bi Men webpage: This page includes CDC’s overview of some current infectious disease outbreaks impacting MSM and how to prevent and control the spread of each. Included on the page is information regarding Monkeypox, Meningococcal disease, HIV & STIs, as well as COVID-19.
- Serogroups A, C, W, and Y Meningococcal Disease: What Gay and Bisexual Men Need to Know: This fact sheet describes what meningococcal disease is, what symptoms might look like, how it is spread, and who is most at risk.
- Meningococcal Disease: What People Living with HIV Need to Know: This fact sheet described additional information regarding meningococcal disease for those living with HIV and details on why it is important for all individuals living with HIV to be vaccinated against meningococcal disease.
CDC plans to alert healthcare providers about the outbreak and to stress the importance of collecting a travel history and promptly reporting cases to their local or state health department.
In response to the serogroup B cluster in Leon County, Florida, officials are recommending the following groups of college and university students in Leon County, FL, consider getting a MenB vaccine series: (Many college students may have received the MenACWY vaccine, but should look into getting the MenB vaccine as well due to the current outbreak.)
- College and university undergraduate students
- Students living in on-campus housing
- Those who participate in a fraternity or sorority