LOS ANGELES — The strain of bacterial meningitis that infected 22 gay men and killed seven in New York City starting in 2010, continues to be a small but lethal public health risk with eight more having contracted it this year in Los Angeles County. Three died and all were men who had sex with men, the Associated Press reports.
Last week, the county’s Department of Public Health urged gay men who have had HIV or multiple partners to get vaccinated against invasive meningococcal disease, the AP said.
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, the AP said citing authorities.
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 AP said.
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.
About a third of the 32 bacterial meningitis cases reported in the county since October 2012 involved men who had sex with men, the Daily News reported.
That population is most at risk right now, said Dr. Robert Bolan, medical director for the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.
The county health department is “paying attention” and acting “in a timely manner” by urging vaccinations for members of the gay community, he told the newspaper.