Information on meningococcal meningitis

CHICAGO — Reports of meningococcal meningitis have been flying fast on social media. Here’s what we do know for sure.

ChicagoGoPride reported in April that there were two cases of meningitis with Chicago residents, similar to another outbreak last June. Since then, the Chicago Department of Public Health has been vaccinating men who have sex with men at clinics. The Howard Brown Health Center and Team Friendly Chicago have also been working with bars to have vaccination nights. The DPH was also at International Mr. Leather giving free vaccinations.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Den has received reports of people going to emergency rooms, but no confirmed cases of meningococcal meningitis stemming from IML. We will let you know as soon as we can get confirmation.

Here are the symptoms of meningococcal meningitis:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck

Accompanying symptoms may include

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Confusion

If you are experiencing these symptoms please seek medical help. The incubation period is usually 2 to 10 days. Not everyone will show symptoms.

Meningococcal meningitis is spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions including intimate activities such as kissing and sexual contact or sharing drinks or cigarettes, smoking devices or marijuana. These bacteria are not as contagious as the viruses that cause the common cold. Partners,roommates or anyone in direct contact with a patient’s saliva or spit (including sexual partners) would be considered at increased risk.

People with HIV and compromised immune symptoms are at greater risk, but health professionals are saying that ALL people should get vaccinated.

Vaccinations are still available at Howard Brown and City of Chicago clinics. For those outside of Chicago, check with your local health department or primary care provider.

You can get more information from these websites:

City of Chicago Department of Public Health

Minnesota Department of Health

Howard Brown and Team Friendly are hosting a vaccination tonight, Thursday, June 2, at Jackhammer in Chicago.

We will publish more as we get information.