The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency has issued a health advisory this morning concerning a cluster of six confirmed cases of Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD) in Chicago.
Men who have sex with men (MSM), and transwomen are the primary concern when it comes to IMD. IMD can cause Meningitis and is extremely dangerous.
It is recommended that you get vaccinated before attending the 46th Annual Chicago Pride on June 20 to 21, and Chicago Black Pride on July 2 through July 5.
If you are heading to Chicago Pride, you should be careful when socializing or initiating any sort of intimate behaviors with other men or transwomen. Saliva exchange is how the disease can enter the body.
For two years, The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has recommended to vaccinate all MSM men to prevent the disease from spreading, with the last known case being noted in December 2014. Los Angeles has also made the same vaccination recommendations.
It is important to note that travelers visiting New York, Los Angeles or Chicago should be vaccinated for safety reasons.
Although no cases of IMD have been reported in San Diego, the San Diego Health and Human Services Agency are fearful that people are not aware of the dangers IMD in documented case cities and want to bring it to the traveling public’s attention.
Another complication the Health Department faces are men that don’t identify themselves as having sex with men or homosexual, and engage in MSM activities anyway.
Symptoms of IMD can be very similar to influenza with fever. But may also include, severe abdominal pain without a proven attribution, rapid heart rate, and breathing, also low blood pressure. Further, small subdermal red spots that do not change color when pressure is added may also appear.
The best way to protect yourself is immunization and restricting certain behaviors.
Doctor Eric McDonald, Medical Director of Epidemiology & Immunizations Services Branch of San Diego Public Health services explains about immunizations,” Same day vaccination will help with prevention in the long run, but not with immediate exposure…it takes two weeks to get the full benefit of immunity from a vaccine.”
However Dr. McDonald also says that getting an immunization when you can is always a good idea.
In a statement to SDGLN, Dr. McDonald emphasizes the importance of not only knowing that you are at risk, but just how dangerous the disease can be:
“IMD is a rare, but serious and potentially fatal illness,” he said. “The health advisory lets people know if they are at higher risk when they travel and that they can protect themselves by getting vaccinations as recommended and by some simple behavior changes that limit the spread of saliva, such as not sharing drinks, eating utensils, and cigarettes, and not having multiple kissing partners.”
For a full list of free vaccination and on-site clinic locations click here HERE
For more information on IMD click HERE
[UPDATE] If you are looking for the vaccine in a San Diego clinic they should have it, especially a travel clinic. It is a routine vaccine administered to adolescents. The San Diego County Public Health Center immunization clinics only have this vaccine available for children/adolescents without insurance.
Here are 3 travel clinics in San Diego:
Timothy Rawles is the Community Editor of SDGLN. He can be reached at email@example.com, @reporter66 on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.