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As deadly meningitis outbreak worsens, some are mourning losses

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

George Wallace, with the LGBT Center in Orlando, buried a friend of a friend recently and said the outbreak has been "very reminiscent of the AIDS pandemic."

More than 26 people have fallen ill, and at least seven have died in Florida from a deadly meningitis outbreak that is mostly affecting gay and bisexual men. 

George Wallace, executive director of the LGBT Center in Orlando, says the majority of the cases are in young, otherwise healthy men in their 30s in Orange County.

Wallace buried a friend of a friend recently.

“And it is sad. And very reminiscent of the AIDS pandemic. It starts slow and seven could become 70 could become 700,” Wallace says.

But Wallace says one important difference between the meningitis outbreak and the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, is that there’s an already available meningitis vaccine that’s been around for decades.

“We have a vaccine that will help combat that and we know about the disease. When the AIDS crisis started, there was mass hysteria and panic because people didn’t know. We know about meningitis and it is preventable.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging gay and bisexual men who live in Florida, or who may travel to the state, to get vaccinated against meningitis. 

Copyright 2022 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Danielle Prieur