CDC investigates 'one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease' in US history among gay and bisexual men in Florida
The CDC said Thursday there have been 26 cases and seven deaths from meningococcal disease in Florida during the investigation period
Among those, 24 cases and six deaths were in men who have sex with men
The CDC says the outbreak is "primarily among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, including those living with HIV
This outbreak is mostly affecting people who live in Florida but has also affected some people who have traveled to Florida
Meningococcal disease includes meningitis -- infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord -- and bloodstream infections
"Meningococcal disease can affect anyone and can be deadly," the CDC said in its statement.
The bacteria is spread through sharing respiratory or throat secretions, such as saliva or spit
It normally takes close or lengthy contact, for example kissing or being close to someone who is coughing, to spread the bacteria.
Symptoms include high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea or vomiting or a dark purple rash, the CDC said .
While they can first appear as flu like, they typically get worse very quickly .
If someone has these symptoms, they should seek medical attention immediately.
Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious illness, which can quickly become deadly
Anyone in Florida can get the vaccine at no cost at county health departments during the outbreak.
According to the CDC, the outbreak affecting men who have sex with men is caused by serogroup C.
The threat to the general US population is low, the CDC said.
But there are notably high numbers of monkeypox cases among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men
"However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk," the CDC notes
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