With the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issuing a warning about eight cases of invasive meningococcal disease so far this year, including four involving gay men who live or socialize in West Hollywood and North Hollywood, the question is where to go for treatment.
Anyone who experiences symptoms such as headache, fever and a stiff neck and sometimes confusion and vomiting should see a doctor immediately. Meningitis and sepsis, also caused by the meningococcal virus, is often fatal. The bacteria can be spread by very close exposure to sneezing and coughing or direct contact with saliva or nose mucus.
To protect yourself against infection, the best approach is to get vaccinated. Many doctors don’t stock meningitis vaccine, so it’s smart to call yours in advance of an appointment to see if he or she has it available. If you don’t have health insurance, there are some other options:
- AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) offers free meningococcal vaccine at its AHF Men’s Wellness Center, located at 1300 North Vermont Ave., Suite 407, Los Angeles. For more information, call (866) 339-2525 or visit www.aidshealth.org.
- The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center offers meningococcal vaccine at its McDonald/Wright Building, located at 1625 North Schrader Blvd., Los Angeles. It also offers free meningococcal vaccine at The Spot, located at 745 North San Vicente Blvd., behind Citibank, in West Hollywood. For more information, call (323) 860-5855 (McDonald/Wright) or (323) 993-7440 (The Spot) or visit www.lagaycenter.org.
- The Saban Community Clinic offers free meningococcal vaccine at its Hollywood-Wilshire Health Center, located at 5205 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. For more information, please call (323) 769-7800 or visit www.sabancommunityclinic.org.
- In West Hollywood, the MinuteClinic at CVS Pharmacy, located at 8491 Santa Monica Blvd. at La Cienega, offers meningococcal vaccine for a fee, though the MinuteClinic will accept health insurance coverage. For more information, please call (866) 389-2727 or visit http://www.minuteclinic.com/CA/Los-Angeles/West-Hollywood.aspx.
- The L.A. County Department of Public Health will be offering free meningococcal vaccine to L.A. County residents without health insurance, beginning tomorrow. For a listing of clinics, call the L.A. County Information Line at 2-1-1 from any cell phone or landline in Los Angeles County or visit http://publichealth.lacounty.gov.
For additional clinical information regarding invasive meningococcal disease (IMD), visit the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at http://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/index.html.