The Centers for Disease Control and Florida health officials are warning of a “historic” meningococcal outbreak among gay and bisexual men that has killed seven and seriously ill 24 others.
The alarming rise in cases prompted the CDC to recommend vaccinations for all gay and bisexual men in the Sunshine State.
The agency characterized the ongoing transmissions “as one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in United States history.”
The bacteria can be spread through saliva and transmission requires close contact, health officials said.
Kissing or being near an infected person who is coughing can cause an infection.
“Meningococcal disease can affect anyone and can be fatal and includes infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and the bloodstream,” the CDC said in a statement.
The agency also recommends vaccinations for gay men who plan to travel to Florida.
“This outbreak primarily affects people who live in Florida, but has also affected some people who have traveled to Florida,” officials said.
The CDC noted that half of those infected with the disease in Florida are Hispanic.