Meningitis claims three lives in Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Three of eight people who contracted bacterial meningitis this year have died, and all three had sex with other men, Los Angeles County health officials said Thursday.
The confirmation came a day after the Department of Public Health urged gay men who had HIV or multiple partners to be vaccinated against invasive meningococcal disease.
However, the department said the three men who died didn’t have any direct contact with each other. The disease still is considered rare and sporadic and the department is shying away from declaring any outbreak in the gay community, authorities said.
Four of the eight people who came down with the illness had sex with other men and three were HIV positive. The three who died in February and March were 27 or 28 years old and two were HIV positive, according to the department.
Of the other five people who fell ill, four are out of the hospital and one is hospitalized but recovering.
The agency was “insensitive” for failing to announce the deaths earlier, Michael Weinstein, executive director for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, told the Los Angeles Daily News.
“We’re the largest HIV/AIDS medical care provider in the nation, and they didn’t tell us,” said Weinstein, a critic who has called the health department a “bloated bureaucracy.”