Bacterial Meningitis Deaths of Gay Men in S. Calif. Spark Concern
Health officials in Los Angeles are giving out free meningitis vaccinations after the recent deaths of three Southern California men, two of them openly gay, L.A. NBC affiliate KNBC reports.
Last weekend, the Associated Press reported that Brett Shaad, 33, of West Hollywood, was declared brain dead shortly after being diagnosed. West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran, who saw Shaad just before he fell sick, said the openly gay man had been "robust and healthy."
Health officials in West Hollywood quickly warned gay men about the incident. Now, officials are taking things further after the announcement of two more similar deaths: Rjay Spoon, 30, of downtown Los Angeles, died on Dec. 16, and an unidentified 30-year-old San Diego State University student who lived in Chula Vista, Calif., (7 miles from downtown San Diego), died Dec. 10.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which is offering the free vaccines in Los Angeles, had reported that Shaad had attended the White Party in Palm Springs, which was held on March 29 to April 1 -- a point later disputed and a point many believed irrelevant in any event.
Though some may think the incident is a bacterial meningitis outbreak, L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Jonathan Fielding said in a press conference that this was no indication of an outbreak of the infection.
Spoon’s partner, Casey Hayden, described what happened to Spoon: He said he woke up and found his partner vomiting. Hayden added that doctors were stumped over Spoon’s symptoms.
"We went to the hospital and the first thing they said it was was a drug overdose," Hayden said on Tuesday. "Then they said it was extremely advanced HIV, which was not the case. He was negative." A week later, Spoon died.