US experts now think that the single case of meningitis in Los Angeles is not linked to the outbreak among gay men in New York. And they stress that people should not panic: the disease is easily preventible through vaccination.
But the advice for gay men travelling to the US – especially if they’re HIV+ – is still to get vaccinated.
“This is not a disease transmittable mainly by sexual contact,” Dr. Parveen Kaur of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation told the Sacramento Bee. “It’s spread by respiratory droplets, which means you can be sitting and having a prolonged conversation with somebody and spread the disease without having sex. It can also be transmitted through saliva and intimate activities.”
Doctors don’t yet know if the strain of meningitis that killed Brett Shaad, a 33-year-old lawyer, was the same one that has infected thirteen gay men in New York. Seven have died.
Shaad had just resigned his job as a commercial and property lawyer in Los Angeles to run a nonprofit seeking to prevent suicide by getting mental health care to those who couldn’t afford it.