August 13, 2013 -- A bacterial meningitis outbreak among gay and bisexual men in New York City that had raised fears of a new AIDS-type epidemic has subsided after an aggressive vaccination campaign, leaving city health officials cautiously optimistic that it has been contained.
The outbreak cast a pall over gay night life in the city, and raised fears among gay men traveling to and from New York that they might catch the casually transmissible and highly lethal disease. Twenty-two men have been infected and about a third of them — seven — have died since 2010, with the numbers accelerating last fall and early this year.
But the last case was in mid-February, the longest interval without a new case since January 2012. City health officials feared that the infection, which attacks the lining of the brain and spinal cord and can be transmitted through kissing and even sharing a glass, might flare during crowded gay pride events in late June. But that did not come to pass.
“We think that because we’ve had no cases in six months, we have to conclude that enough of the population has been vaccinated to provide protection at least for now,” Dr. Jay K. Varma, the city’s deputy commissioner of disease control, said this week. “Whether or not this provides protection for several years is something that we’ll have to see.”
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