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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: June 14, 2013


Dover, DE - Due to Delaware's proximity to New York City (NYC), the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is encouraging men who have sex with men (MSM), and who may have had intimate contact with a man who was known to be from NYC, or could potentially be from NYC (if the sexual partner's place of residence was unknown), to discuss the need for meningococcal vaccination with their physician.

NYC is reporting an ongoing outbreak of meningococcal disease in men who have sex with men. Since 2010, the city has reported 22 cases (one in 2010, 4 in 2011, 13 in 2012 and 4 in 2013) with 7 fatalities.

There has not been any increase in Delaware cases of meningococcal disease, and no clusters or trends in age or sex have been identified thus far. This action is being taken out of an abundance of caution. Delaware has on average 1-2 cases of invasive N. meningitides reported each year.

"Meningitis symptoms can develop quickly, and the disease can be rapidly fatal if not promptly diagnosed and treated," said Dr. Awele N. Maduka-Ezeh, DPH medical director. "Men who have sex with men and meet the above criteria - regardless of whether they identify as gay - should speak with their physician about the meningococcal vaccine."

Meningococcal disease is a severe bacterial infection cause by the bacterium Neisseria meningitides (also called meningococcus). Meningococcal meningitis occurs when the infection involves the lining of the brain and spinal cord. The bacteria can also cause other serious illnesses, such as bloodstream infections. The bacteria spread through respiratory and throat secretions usually to those who have had significant close contact with the infected person (e.g., living in close quarters, kissing). The bacteria are not usually spread by casual, short lived contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningococcal disease has been.

In addition, routine screening for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including syphilis is encouraged for any of these men if they have not been tested in the past six (6) months.

For more information contact the DPH immunization program at: 1-800-282-8672. Individuals seeking TTY services should call 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460. A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can use a TTY to type his/her conversation to a relay operator, who then reads the typed conversation to a hearing person at the DPH call center. The relay operator relays the hearing person's spoken words by typing them back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit

Additional resources are available at:

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.