- Text smaller
- Text bigger
"Gay" sex is becoming even more dangerous.
Health officials are warning sexually active "gay" men about an outbreak of potentially deadly bacterial meningitis in Los Angeles and New York.
The disease has infected 22 people in New York and caused seven deaths since 2010. Health officials in Los Angeles are testing to see if the strain infecting "gay" men there is the same one hitting New York.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation began offering free meningitis vaccines today after a "gay" man from West Hollywood was declared brain dead on Friday.
Thirty-three-year-old lawyer Brett Shaad died within a week of feeling sick.
Authorities suspect he was exposed to bacterial meningitis at a party in Palm Springs the weekend of March 30 that attracts "gay" revelers from across the country.
The New York Daily News is calling the disease an STD threat, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not classify bacterial meningitis as a sexually transmitted disease.
The CDC does say the disease can not be spread by casual contact, but, "Some bacteria can spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (e.g., kissing)."
KTLA reported the death of Shaad, a West Hollywood lawyer, has caused alarm.
"We're not saying at this point that we have an outbreak in Los Angeles," Michael Weinstein, president of the AHF, told KTLA. "But we know that this disease is serious, it’s deadly and that it can spread relatively easily.”
Symptoms of the disease often appear within three to seven days of exposure. They include fever, stiff neck, nausea, headache, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and an altered mental state, often confusion.
West Hollywood Councilman John Duran said notices are being posted.
"For a lot of our younger community members, 35 and under, this is the first time they've lost a friend who is young and healthy," Duran said. "A lot of us over 40 are having déjà vu, having lived through the AIDS epidemic."
Meanwhile, health experts try to minimize alarm over a national epidemic "among gay men."
"This is not a disease transmittable mainly by sexual contact. It's spread by respiratory droplets, which means you can be sitting and having a prolonged conversationw ith somebody and spread the disease without having sex," said Dr. Parveen Kaur of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Kaur said usually out of 100 cases, there will be 10 to 15 fatalities, while just about that many will be left with hearing loss, diminished mental capacity or other problems.