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Florida Health Officials Warn Gay and Bisexual Men to Watch Out for Bacterial Meningitis in Los Angeles

So the Florida Department of Health recently warned men who have sex with men to use "extra caution" when traveling to Los Angeles, where, according to Florida health officials, there have been "higher incidences" of bacterial meningitis.

It's an odd advisory when you consider that the L.A. County Department of Public Health, which is overseen by Dr. Jonathan Fielding, essentially maintains that gay and bisexual men in L.A. County really have nothing to worry about when it comes to the deadly disease.

Back in April, there was a bacterial meningitis scare when West Hollywood resident Brett Shaad suddenly died from that disease. Other cases in Southern California were also found...

But on April 19, L.A. County health officials released an advisory stating that a vaccination campaign was not necessary and that concerned individuals should go to their health care provider and discuss "prevention options."

Apparently the news did not get back to Florida health officials, or maybe they know something we don't. In a July 3 advisory, they wrote:

"The Florida Department of Health (DOH) recommends that the men having sex with men (MSM) population educate themselves on the risks associated with bacterial meningitis. Extra caution should be taken when traveling to cities such as New York or Los Angeles, which have higher incidences of the disease in the MSM community."

Dr. Celeste Philip, the interim deputy secretary for health in Florida, then says: "Since we have seen an increase in the incidence of bacterial meningitis in this population we want to educate individuals about the importance of preventing the disease. Individuals in this population, who are traveling to other parts of the country where increases in cases have been reported, should talk to their health care provider."

Additionally, Dr. Sheetal Sharma, an HIV specialist in Florida, recently told the Miami Herald, "My advice is that anyone who is traveling to a city with a high number of cases of infections such as New York or L.A. be vaccinated for meningitis."

As far as we can see on the L.A. County Public Health's web site, L.A. officials have said nothing new about bacterial meningitis since April 19.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Patrick Range McDonald on Twitter at @PRMcDonald.


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