Meningitis Strains Affecting Gay Men in L.A. and NYC Not Connected, Officials Say

The strains of meningitis affecting gay men in NYC and L.A. are not connected, NBC News reports:

MeningitisAfter four cases of meningococcal disease among gay men were reported in Los Angeles county in recent months, there were concerns that the New York City outbreak had spread, but public health officials in Los Angeles and New York say the strains are not connected.

The New York City outbreak has been linked to parties, online websites or apps that men used to find other men for "close or intimate sexual contact," according to health officials. But for more than half of the men sickened by meningitis, there was no evidence that the men had used any of these means to encounter other men, according to public health officials.

Vaccinations are still recommended:

[Dr. Jay] Varma is concerned the outbreak is getting worse. There were a total of thirteen known cases of bacterial meningitis among men last year (triple the total in 2011). But already in the first three months of 2013, four men have been hit, not including Shaad and others in Los Angeles.

“Normally people think of an outbreak as a lot of people getting sick at one point in time – but here the number of cases is much higher than we normally expect,” said Varma.

The rate of meningitis in gay men in New York City has spiked to 60 times higher than their straight counterparts.


  1. ratbastard says

    Pheeeeeew! I feel so much better knowing there are two separate strains affecting gay men instead of one.

    These pandemics are started by a handful of out of control men. It’s fueled especially by the drug scene and so-called party circuit which only attracts a relatively small percentage of gay and bi men, especially those with money to [literally] blow [or smoke, pop, inject,etc.]. Out of control behavior and weakened immune systems. Same old, same old.

  2. ratbastard says

    Oh, and by the way, if you hadn’t noticed, I’m a projecting self-loather. I only mouth off so much because I partied so much (blow, snort, inject, insert, etc) when I was younger and marginally hotter. Nowadays now man who can still manage an erection will even look at me. You know what they say: “None more zealous than a convert.”

  3. Arrant says

    This is frightening. I’d like to know more about why these strains of meningitis are being linked to partying or online hook ups by health authorities since meningococcal disease is not, strictly speaking, an STD, but rather one that can be spread by non-intimate contact. Is it compromised immune systems overloaded by partying that leaves gay men more vulnerable? Or is it more a matter of odds–the more men you have contact with, the more risk you take? Puzzling and scary stuff.

  4. Insf says

    Obviously there is a connection. The article said that gay men were contracting meningitis at 60 times the rate of straight counterparts. Maybe they aren’t the same strain but something is happening.

    I feel for the West Hollywood lawyer’s family, but also wonder if maybe he was HIV positive and did not want anyone to know.

  5. MaddM@ says

    “Reports of a strange illness affecting gay men in two major cities may conjure images of the early years of AIDS — as well as the stigma that surrounded patients with HIV”

    This is it entirely- all the buzz is about trying to get the freshest scoop on the next HIV/AIDS and not really because this is of huge medical merit. Please see- the recent circus surrounding the boston marathon bombings and the wild speculation by mainstream news outlets in order to have the most recent “news”

    Unfortunately, again, this piece has all the sensationalism and none of the public health information that could actually HELP SAVE SOMEONE. This is a direct diss to Kristina Krohn, the author. so yeah if you don’t want to die of meningitis know the signs

    -stiff neck
    -pain with light exposure

    If you have 3 or more (ESPECIALLY fever) seek medical evaluation

    eventually people can develop very altered mental status, possibly even seizures or strokes. Even if people survive they can suffer permanent brain damage. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to better outcomes. There are multiple types of both viral and bacterial meningitis however this specific bacterial species is particularly virulent so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  6. MaddM@ says

    well, on second read I saw it but I feel like they really bury the lead. They also didn’t mention the photophobia and the neck stiffness which are really two classic symptoms. Whatever 😛

  7. Paul says

    Some reports mention that Mr. Shaad had been in Hong Kong, prior to him becoming ill. If that is true, why isn’t the CDC looking into that location as a possible source, beside New York. Various strains of Bird flu like H7n9 (yes, it’s not related to meningitis) , are popping up there too in that region, including China.

  8. AngelaChanning says

    Arrant, John Aravosis of AmericaBlogGay has been reporting on this and has a good write up to help you assess your risk.

    The bottom line about meningitis affecting gay men is that the disease can affect physical communities like college dorms or prisons, and also virtual communities (hooking up on grindr, for example). It is a fluke that gay men are affected at a higher risk rate than the public at large. But of course it is not a gay disease. It is just spread in this manner because we do have virtual communities.

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