One man has died of meningitis and three others have fallen ill, one critically, over the last month in an outbreak of the infection among men who have sex with men, the New York City health department said on Thursday.
The health department said in a written statement that it was investigating “a cluster of invasive meningococcal disease,” commonly known as meningitis, a severe bacterial infection with a high fatality rate.
All four cases involve H.I.V.-infected men, who are at a higher risk of getting the infection and of dying from it than is the general population, the department said. The men’s ages were reported as 31 to 42 and the cases were in several boroughs.
The disease is spread by close contact with discharges from the nose or throat of an infected person, which can happen from living in the same household or sexual contact, including kissing, the department said.
Symptoms, including high fever, headache, a stiff neck and a rash, can show up 2 to 10 days after exposure and develop rapidly within two days, the department said. The statement urged people who believed they were infected to seek immediate medical care.
Health officials said that healthy people can carry the bacteria in their noses and mouths, so there is no easy way to know whether someone could transmit it. Several of the patients had multiple, anonymous sex partners, officials said. Condoms do not protect against invasive meningococcal disease.
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