Joining in on NYC Gay Pride Weekend at the end of this month? Health officials want to make sure you get your meningitis vaccination. Almost one third of men who've contracted the disease in NYC since August 2010 have died: according to a report from the Annals of Internal Medicine, 22 men have been afflicted with meningococcal disease through intimate encounters with other men. Seven of those men have died, which is a fatality rate significantly higher than that found in the general population, where meningitis kills between 10 and 14 percent of patients.

NBC New York explains why you really don't want meningococcal disease: "Meningitis is a bacteria that invades the linings of the brain and spinal cord, leading to disability, hearing loss or brain damage, or death. It can also enter the bloodstream and cause septicemia. The bacteria that causes meningitis, Neisseria meningitides, in their noses and throats." And Medpage Today notes the warning signs:

Early clinical signs may include an influenza-like illness with severe muscle pain, signs of sepsis, and a petechial rash. Transmission takes place during prolonged direct contact with upper respiratory secretions from colonized or infected people.

It remains unclear... why outbreaks disproportionately affect men who have sex with men, although epidemiological studies have shown 43% carriage of oropharyngeal N. meningitides, as well as colonization rates of 2% and 1% in the rectum and urethra, respectively.

NYC officials launched a public awareness drive last year to encourage people to get vaccinations, and that may be making an impact. Four cases were reported earlier this year, but there have been no cases in the last four months. If you want to make sure you keep it that way, here's information about getting the meningitis vaccine.