Living in New York City is great -- at least most of the time. Sometimes it's not. Now is one of those times.
The city has announced that there is a meningitis outbreak among men who have sex with men in Brooklyn. (There will be no punning with meninigitis and "men." This is serious, you guys.)
Those at risk are:
men who have had intimate contact with another man met through a website, digital application ("app"), or at a bar or party since September 1, 2012, if they:
In addition, men who meet the criteria above and plan to have intimate contact with another man met through a website, digital application ("app"), or a bar or party in the near future should be vaccinated.
- Are HIV-positive, or
- Are HIV-negative and live in specific areas of Brooklyn, including Bedford Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bushwick, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Downtown, Dumbo, East New York, Prospect Heights and Williamsburg.
So we bearded hipsters, Puerto Rican papis, sexy black men and anyone else in the borough who might be slutting it up at bars or parties or on Grindr or Scruff or anywhere need to get our asses to the doctor for a meningitis vaccination to contain the outbreak.
You can contract meningitis through saliva, so if you've been swapping spit with anyone, get vaccinated. Meningitis can also be spread by drinking out of the same cup or sharing cigarettes. That's what makes getting vaccinated incredibly important.
Don't have a doctor? Call 311, and they'll tell you where to go. (Oh, and while you're at the doctor, get tested for HIV.)
Think you've been vaccinated? Well, you probably have, but if it wasn't within the last five years, get vaccinated, because the vaccine may have worn off. You'll want to get a booster shot.
What is meningitis, you ask? Well, the NIH's website says, "Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges)." Symptoms include "fever and chills, mental status changes, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, severe headache, and stiff neck." It's a pretty serious disease that can result in permanent brain damage or death. Like I said, this is serious, guys.
Moral of the story: get vaccinated. Oh, and tell your friends to get vaccinated, too.
For more information, see the NYC Health Department's fact sheet below: