TAMPA (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Health said it is responding to an outbreak of meningococcal disease in Florida.

In a press release, the FDOH said the number of cases identified in 2022 surpasses the 5-year average of meningococcal disease cases in Florida.

FDOH epidemiologists are investigating each case as well as contacting people with potential or direct exposure to known cases to provide them with information and treatment options.

The DOH said meningococcal disease is serious and caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. The bacteria are not as contagious as germs that cause the common cold or flu. People do not catch the bacteria through casual contact or by breathing air where someone with meningococcal disease has been as it requires close contact over a period of time, or direct contact such as kissing or sharing drinks.

Early symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, confusion, and rash. Anyone who has been exposed or develops symptoms should be evaluated by a health care provider immediately as the DOH says this is a rare but potentially devastating disease.

The following groups should consider vaccination with a meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY) vaccine during this outbreak:

  • College and university students
  • Immunocompromised individuals
  • People living with HIV
  • Men who have sex with men
  • People in any groups listed above who received their MenACWY vaccine more than 5 years ago.

For more information about meningococcal disease, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website or the FDOH website or call your local FDOH:

Citrus: 352-527-0068
Hardee: 863-773-4161
Hernando: 352-540-6800
Highlands: 863-386-6040
Hillsborough: 813-307-8000
Manatee: 941-748-0747
Pasco: 727-619-0300
Pinellas: 727-824-6900
Polk: 863-519-7900
Sarasota: 941-861-2900