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Friday, June 24, 2022

Marion County health officials encouraging vaccinations in response to meningococcal disease outbreak  

The Florida Department of Health is responding to an outbreak of meningococcal disease in the state.

Meningococcal is a serious disease caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. According to FDOH, these bacteria are not as contagious as the germs that cause the common cold or flu.

The reported number of meningococcal cases identified in 2022 have surpassed the five-year average of cases in Florida. FDOH epidemiologists are investigating each reported case, and they are contacting people with potential or direct exposure to known cases to provide them with information and treatment options.

Individuals do not catch the bacteria through casual contact or by breathing air where someone with meningococcal disease has been. The bacteria can be transferred through close contact over a period of time or through direct contact, such as kissing or sharing drinks.

Early symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, confusion, and rash. Anyone who has been exposed or develops symptoms should be evaluated by a health care provider immediately. This is a rare but potentially devastating disease.

The disease can be prevented and treated, and Marion County health officials are encouraging the following groups to consider vaccination with a meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY) during the outbreak:

  • College and university students.
  • Immunocompromised individuals.
  • People living with HIV.
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • People in any of the above-listed groups who received their MenACWY vaccine more than 5 years ago.

The Florida Department of Health in Marion County offers meningococcal vaccines. Residents can also contact a health care provider, the county health department, or a local pharmacy to find meningococcal vaccines, including the MenACWY vaccine.

For more information, visit the Florida Department of Health in Marion County webpage or call 352-629-0137.

For more information about meningococcal disease, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Florida Department of Health webpages.