City Responds to Meningitis Outbreak

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by Naomi Cohen

In response to a meningitis outbreak among HIV-infected men in New York, the city is launching a campaign to encourage vaccination. The Department of Health announced the outbreak on Sept. 27:
"Since August 2010, we've detected 12 cases of this very specific strain but what we're most concerned about is that in the past four weeks there have been four cases and one of those cases has died," Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control in the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Dr. Jay Varma [told ]([1010 WINS](
Eight of the 12 victims since 2010 were infected with HIV, five used cocaine and/or methamphetamine and four met men online. All were between ages 31 and 42 and came from different New York City boroughs.
The city ordered 10,000 meningitis vaccines, free for those who can't pay, but has not announced when they will be available. Those in close contact with the victims-which includes sharing a residence, kissing and sexual contact-have been treated with antibiotics. The cause of the infection is still unknown.
"One good part about this outbreak, if you could ever say anything good about an outbreak, is that the bacteria that causes this infection is easily treatable with common antibiotics," Varma told 1010 WINS.
Meningitis has epidemic potential and should be treated as soon as possible. Symptoms include fever, rash, body aches, stiff neck and nausea from the swelling of membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

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