New York expands call for meningococcal vaccinations

The New York Department of Health has expanded a recommendation from earlier this month calling for an increase in meningococcal vaccinations.

The original alert, issued by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, called for an increase of meningococcal vaccinations for men who have sex with men. The recommendations were issued in response to an outbreak of invasive meningococcal disease in New York City.

Meningococcal disease is a severe bacterial infection of the bloodstream. Symptoms include high fever, headache, vomitting, stiff neck and a rash. Symptoms commonly occur between two and 10 days of exposure but usually within five days.

A total of 22 men in New York City and one man residing outside of the city who spent significant time there have become ill during the outbreak since 2010, with seven of the infected men dying.

The expanded vaccine recommendation includes men residing outside of New York City who have traveled to the city and engaged in certain risky behaviors since Sept. 1.