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Orange County health care providers order more meningitis vaccine as outbreak continues

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

Orange County clinics that cater to the LGBTQ community are stocking up on meningitis vaccines due to an outbreak that’s only been detected so far in men who have sex with men.

The CDC says the best prevention against meningitis is getting vaccinated.

Hope & Help’s Medical Director Dr. Trey Vanderburg says that’s why his Winter Park clinic, which usually provides HIV, STI and hepatitis C testing, has ordered the meningitis vaccine.

“We are currently out of the vaccine right now. And we have contacted the health department and we are in the process of getting more vaccines delivered to our facility.”

Vanderburg says people might also want to avoid behaviors that help spread meningitis.

“One, I would caution them to please get a vaccine. If it’s been more than five years that you’ve had your meningococcal vaccine, please go get a booster.," Vanderburg says "Another thing I would do is just be cognizant of the risk factors. This is something that is transmitted through saliva. Therefore sharing drinks, sharing food, extended kissing. Those are things that can help propagate the spread of this as well.”

BLISS Health in Orlando has also ordered the vaccine, while SPEKTRUM Health in Edgewood is focused on training patients to screen partners for symptoms of the illness.

Since the end of 2021, six men in the county have been diagnosed with meningitis and three men in their 30s have died from the illness. It's the most cases the area has seen in five years.

Anyone who has symptoms, including fever, headache, a stiff neck, light sensitivity or a rash should seek immediate medical attention.

Alvina Chu, who runs the Division of Infectious Diseases for Orange County, says the outbreak in meningitis has corresponded with a rise in hepatitis A. Some 39 cases of that disease have been identified in the area.

Danielle Prieur
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