Meningitis Kills 3 in LA County

Gay men at increased risk, medical director says
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2014 10:01 AM CDT
Meningitis Kills 3 in LA County
Walter Orlando gets a vaccine against bacterial meningitis at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in West Hollywood, Calif., Monday, April 15, 2013.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Three gay men in their late 20s have died from a bacterial meningitis in the Los Angeles area so far this year, with another five people having come down with the illness. Four of the cases involved gay men and three were HIV positive, the Los Angeles Times reports; two of those who died were HIV positive. None of the deceased, who died in February or March, had been in direct contact with each other, the AP notes. "I think the important thing to understand is this is not an epidemic," the medical director of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center says. "But there's a pretty strong signal that men who have sex with men, at least those who are HIV positive, are at increased risk for invasive meningococcal disease."

Yesterday's news of the deaths comes almost exactly a year after meningitis—a disease spread by contact with saliva or nose mucus—killed another LA man, and a day after the Department of Public Health urged gay men who are HIV positive, or have multiple partners, to get vaccinated. The county is now offering free vaccinations for those without health insurance. "It's like a bad dream, like a bad deja vu," said a councilman. "Three deaths in three months, it's a lot in one community ... It's a bigger tragedy that they're all young men in their 20s." Of the other five cases, all but one are out of the hospital. (More meningitis stories.)

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