Gay West Hollywood Man Brain Dead from Bacterial Meningitis; Not Known if Related to Deadly NYC Outbreak

A gay West Hollywood attorney is brain dead from bacterial meningitis, the AP reports:

ShaadBrett Shaad was declared brain dead but remained on life support Friday afternoon, said Elizabeth Ashford, a spokeswoman for Shaad’s family. She declined to release further details.

West Hollywood Councilman John Duran incorrectly said he had been taken off life support earlier on Friday, the wire adds:

Duran, who saw Shaad last weekend, described the openly gay man as being “robust and healthy” prior to Monday, when he began to feel sick.

On Wednesday, he went into the emergency room. By Thursday, he was in a coma.

Tests are underway on the strain of meningitis to determine if it is related to the deadly strain in NYC, against which health officials have urged sexually active gay men to be vaccinated.

It has not been determined how Shaad contracted meningitis. Shaad's family cricized Duran after he mentioned that Shaad attended the recent White Party in Palm Springs. Shaad also recently visited an Equinox gym in WeHo, the AP adds.

Symptoms typically develop within three to seven days of exposure and can include stiff neck, fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and an altered mental state, often confusion.

More info on meningitis and how it is spread here at the CDC.

According to WABC: "Vaccinations are not being widely recommended in Los Angeles County. But community agencies such as the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center are urging individuals to take precautions."

Added Duran: “We don’t want to panic people. But we learned 30 years ago the consequences of delay in the response to AIDS. We are sounding the alarm that sexually active gay men need to be aware that we have a strain of meningitis that is deadly on our hands."

Our thoughts go out to Shaad's friends and family.

Comments

  1. aj says

    Rather then speculate by innuendo how this meningitis was contracted (“..that Shaad attended the recent White Party in Palm Springs!) perhaps the Dept of Health would best serve the public by outlining the ways by which this disease may be spread..Relying on the good old standby “Sexually Transmitted” does not help the public….

    With Prayers and condolences to Mr Shaad’s family and friends let us be vigilant at this time and ensure that we are all protected by correct and accurate information……

  2. Jack. says

    Viral meningitis isn’t a new thing or a gay thing, but it is a deadly thing. I’ve known two people who died of it in the last 30 years. It’s serious to anyone who comes in contact with it, whether at a frat party or a bathhouse. No need to panic, but do be aware, and do be smart.

    What a beautiful young man. My heart hurts.

  3. Rich F. says

    @ Jack: Agreed, meningitis is potentially deadly. But this is an outbreak of bacterial meningitis (Neisseria meningitidis), not viral.

    Meningococcus is NOT “sexually transmitted.” Its method of transmission is through saliva or respiratory secretions (e.g., coughing or sneezing), so you’re more likely to contract it through kissing, or even just sharing a glass of water. Frankly, it’s a good idea to get vaccinated regardless of sexuality, and most schools require students to be vaccinated.

    If you do get vaccinated, request that they use Menactra or Menveo, since those will generate a long-term immune response, and are amenable to boosters.

  4. Rick says

    “Viral meningitis isn’t a new thing or a gay thing, but it is a deadly thing”

    HIV wasn’t/isn’t a strictly gay thing, either, but, with this, as with most STDs, gay men are the world champions, with no other group coming close.

    And that is not by accident, sad to say.

  5. Jack. says

    The first person I ever knew to die of meningitis was an Irish student at an international frat party. There were probably 100 people at a house party on Friday night, and the only contact was via shared drinking glasses. It was totally heterosexual all around. He fell sick around midnight on Friday, and was dead by Sunday PM. Everyone at the party was urged to get checked and be vigilant for symptoms. No one else got sick, but the point is that a shared drink glass is a viable means of transmission. I think it should be pretty obvious that the one guy didn’t have sex with everybody (or perhaps anybody) at that party, but everyone there was considered potentially at risk. Nothing to do with sex at all.

  6. Salvatore says

    Well, I don’t give a damn what it is, you shouldn’t be having relations without protection anyway. We don’t need a another 80’s epidemic.

  7. KT says

    Meningitis is very serious but I fear some people are trying to make one man dying of it in CA into the next AIDS epidemic. I know there is the strain in NY but we don’t know right now if its related. Meningitis is one of those diseases that affects young healthy people so there is always a concern when it hits. But I don’t think there is a need for panic right now. People, straight and gay, get meningitis all the time. If the strain that killed Shaad is related to the NY one, then there is cause for concern. But if not, then this just remains a tragic loss for the friends and family of this young man.

  8. Will says

    How many epidemics does it take before we grasp that the subculture created by gay men in the 1970s – and which continues today – is bad for our health? That subculture emphasized hookups with multiple, anonymous partners over loving relationships. It doesn’t matter whether the subculture perpetuates itself in the form of 1970s bathhouses, 1980s backrooms, 1990s circuit parties, or 21st century Grindr “dates”. The results: epidemics of syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV, intestinal parasites, drug use, alcohol abuse, depression, social isolation, anxiety, and suicide.

  9. lessthan says

    Will, meningitis is not an STD!! It is harder to catch than a cold, but not by much. Everyone is getting touchy about the mention of the White Party, but a group of people from all over is a prime place for weird sicknesses to pop up. When I was in boot camp, most of the recruits came down with something, to one degree or another. The simple confluence of some many people from so many places is an illness’s wet dream. It has nothing to do with his sexuality.

  10. MaddM@ says

    meningococcal meningitis is by no means an STD but you could give it to a sexual partner the same way the flu is not an STD but you could give it to a sexual partner.

    Symptoms of meningitis are fever, photophobia (light making your headache much worse), a stiff neck, headache, and sometimes nausea/vomiting from meningeal irritation. If you have fever and you can’t touch your chin to your chest without your spine feeling like it’s going to tear you need to get to a hospital pronto. Meningococcal meningitis is very deadly and can give people that survive longterm complications if not treated early. A course of antibiotics for the bacteria and steroids for the inflammation will treat it readily but you have to figure out you have it first.

  11. And Testament says

    @Will: “The results: epidemics of syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV, intestinal parasites, drug use, alcohol abuse, depression, social isolation, anxiety, and suicide.”

    Right. It’s been proven by Bible-based science that all of these maladies are the exclusive product of the perverted sexual practices of the homosexual, and that no straight person has ever been afflicted by any of these ailments.

  12. HirsuteHeuristics says

    Has anyone determined why this is popping up in the gay community? Yes, we need to be vigilant, but is it popping up at quilting bees in the Midwest? Why is the media focusing on us?

  13. peterparker says

    I used to see this guy at the gym frequently. Never spoke to him. He seemed quiet and shy. And he was *gorgeous*. I’m going to miss looking at his pretty face.

  14. Taylor says

    If there is a vaccine available and you have no medical reason not to get it and you don’t…..then you’re a fool.

    Yes…I’ve gotten mine. 10 minutes in doctors office. And 1 day with a sore arm.

  15. Francis #1 says

    No, meningitis is not an STD nor is it a gay disease. Yes, meningitis is pretty easily avoidable if you take the correct prevention steps. Yes, there is a specific outbreak of meningitis that seems to be primarily connected to the LGBT community, or more specifically, men who have sex with men and that’s because we’re a more tightly-knit, smaller community so if one person gets meningitis, it’s more likely to spread within our group.

    My heart goes out to Brett Shaad and his friends and family. 33 is way too young to go. Please, get the vaccine, don’t wait to do so. I did and it’s not too expensive nor painful. And it could very well save your life.

  16. Francis #1 says

    No, meningitis is not an STD nor is it a gay disease. Yes, meningitis is pretty easily avoidable if you take the correct prevention steps. Yes, there is a specific outbreak of meningitis that seems to be primarily connected to the LGBT community, or more specifically, men who have sex with men and that’s because we’re a more tightly-knit, smaller community so if one person gets meningitis, it’s more likely to spread within our group.

    My heart goes out to Brett Shaad and his friends and family. 33 is way too young to go. Please, get the vaccine, don’t wait to do so. I did and it’s not too expensive nor painful. And it could very well save your life.

  17. Billy says

    Please excuse my ignorance, but does meningitis not affect everyone the same way? If he got it from another person, is that person dead now also?

  18. Billy Crytical says

    Diseases come from East Asia. It’s beeen a recurring pattern. The west coast is especially vunerable to the spread of diseases because there are many East Asians on the west coast.

  19. Rich F. says

    @ Billy: Believe it or not, the bacterium that causes meningitis won’t necessarily cause it in everyone who is exposed. Indeed, it’s actually part of the oral/nasal normal flora (i.e., the complement of bacteria that permanently live on/in the body without causing disease) of about 10% of the population.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neisseria_meningitidis

    Also, Rick and Will need to crawl back under their bridges.

  20. Anthony says

    Aren’t vaccines required now for everyone who’s born? I just checked my immunization record and I got three doses for meningitis within a year (1991-1992).

  21. Adam says

    The homophobes at the New York Times are now trying to link meningitis to being gay. Didn’t the same newspaper also demonize us with the AIDS brush?

    Message to the New York Times: f@#* off.

  22. James says

    @ Will

    I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, speaking frankly and honestly about the promiscuous culture within our community and the often grave social ills that it helps exacerbate is met with denials, derision, and accusations of homophobia. This as new HIV infections is highest in our community and continues to rise.

  23. Nelson says

    lessthan – thank you for stating something that ought to be obvious and free of political crap. Jeez. Get a grip people. This could have happened ANYWHERE in any large crowd of people.

  24. ratbastard says

    It should treated as serious public health hazard, period. Leave the PC politics at the door. It’s a serious public health hazard, like TB. Or STDs for that matter. Stop politicizing everything, because this often ends up making the problem worse. Some commonsense things should have been taken early on when AIDS came on the scene, such as closing bath houses and so-on. It was and is a public health issue first and foremost. If you research how syphilis was dealt with by public health officials back in the early 20th century, they didn’t beat around the bush. It was widely acknowledged, warning signs were everywhere. People who caught other contagious diseases were often isolated [for both their own and the general public’s good]. These methods helped prevent far more people from getting ill and dying.

  25. Rick says

    “We don’t want to panic people. But we learned 30 years ago the consequences of delay in the response to AIDS. We are sounding the alarm that sexually active gay men need to be aware that we have a strain of meningitis that is deadly on our hands.”

    Why are public health authorities specifically targeting sexually active gay men if there is nothing about that group’s behavior that makes the spread of this disease among them much more likely than it is among other groups?

    Quibble about the definition of an STD all you want–that is not really the point–and you all know it.

  26. jamal49 says

    First off, my condolences to the family of Mr. Shaad.

    Second off, bacterial meningitis has become resistant to most antibiotics. My guess is probably contraction from the gym, where bacteria can be rampant.

    My mother, recently deceased, was in a hospice center in AZ before her death, and the administration was terrified because two elderly patients had contracted meningitis and the staff was in a panic because the strain was unresponsive to traditional antibiotic treatment.

    This is not a “gay” thing, just as HIV/AIDs is not a “gay” thing. This is a human thing and a result of indiscriminate use of antibiotics which has caused super strains, not just of bacterial meningitis but of tuberculosis, gonorrhea and syphilis.

    This is serious stuff. We’ve created some bacterial monsters and we don’t know how to combat them.

    Sad and horrible way for such a fine young man to die.

    But the media needs to get off this “gay” thing as if it is only a danger to gay men. It is a danger to EVERYBODY.

  27. Deidrefl72 says

    Cornering the market as just a gay thing is stupid and deadly! Viral meningitis can happen to anyone, especially people living in close quarters like college students. Unfortunately, the outbreak in NYC just shows that the carrier was very “mobile”.

  28. Thomas says

    I am seriously going to blow a gasket if I read one more idiotic comment about this being a problem of promiscuity or being gay. THIS IS NOT AN STD. Maybe this example will help make it clear: If two gay virgins make out a little on a date and one has meningitis, the other guy is probably more likely to get it from that little bit of kissing than if he was pounded doggy style by 8 guys in a row while wearing a surgical mask.

    Rich F., Adam, jamal49, Deidrefl72, etc.: thanks for having brains and trying to correct the misconceptions.

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