AHF: New Meningitis Outbreak Hits Gay Men in Los Angeles & OC

AHF calls on LA County to immediately roll out an aggressive public
information campaign, supply vaccines and partner with the community in
prevention efforts.

According to AP, “Nine meningococcal disease cases have been
identified in men living in Los Angeles and Orange counties. One patient
died as a result of the infection. Six of the cases are known to have
been caused by a particular strain of meningococcal bacteria
.”

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Three years after a deadly strain of bacterial meningitis killed two Los
Angeles gay men and a San Diego student, Los
Angeles County Department of Public Health
officials today issued a
Department of Public Health (DPH) ‘Health
Alert’
warning that a new outbreak of invasive meningococcal disease
is once again hitting gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM)
particularly hard. According to the Associated Press, “… nine
meningococcal disease cases have been identified in men living in Los
Angeles and Orange counties. One patient died as a result of the
infection. Six of the cases are known to have been caused by a
particular strain of meningococcal bacteria
.” Four of these nine
meningitis cases were found in MSM, and according to the L.A. County
Health alert, three of the four MSM cases occurred within the past 6
weeks.

“We are calling on LA County Health officials to immediately roll out an
aggressive, high profile and targeted public information campaign about
this latest meningitis outbreak,” said Michael Weinstein,
President of AHF. “We urge Los Angeles County and other affected health
jurisdictions to quickly ramp up their supplies of vaccines and partner
with the community in vaccination efforts as well as educating the
community. We hope to partner with the County in vaccine and prevention
efforts and are working to make vaccines available at our Southern
California area AHF Wellness Centers next week.”

In 2013, while Los Angeles County health officials quibbled with
community health providers and advocates about labeling the deadly
meningitis cases a ‘cluster’ or ‘outbreak’ to describe cases that killed
three MSM in Southern California and seven MSM in New York, AHF mounted
an aggressive free meningitis vaccination campaign in Los Angeles. In
the span of one week (April 15-22, 2013), AHF provided 3,357 free
meningitis vaccines to the community. At that same time in New
York, “…the city’s health department issued a warning … urging all
men who regularly have intimate contact with other men to be vaccinated
for meningitis,”
according to ‘The
New York Times.’
However, the Times’ article also
noted that, “Officials here [in Los Angeles] have thus far been
reluctant to do the same.”

“AHF was first on the vaccination front in 2013 and we are glad to see
that Los Angeles County has stepped up so quickly with a ‘Health Alert’;
however, County health officials need to step up now and focus even
greater attention on meningitis in these populations,” added AHF’s
Weinstein. “Gay men are extremely over-represented in these meningitis
case numbers in Los Angeles. The CDC and the NIH, in conjunction with
local health departments, should really be studying the issue far more
intensively.”

HEALTH NOTE: The meningitis vaccine provides protection for five (5)
years, so any individual who may have been vaccinated during the cases
or outbreaks reported in 2013 or 2014 does NOT need to get a
booster shot or be re-vaccinated now.

About AIDS Healthcare Foundation

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS
organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over
639,000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin
America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn
more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org,
find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth
and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.

Contacts

AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Ged Kenslea
Telephone: (323)
308-1833
Mobile: (323) 791-5526
gedk@aidshealth.org
or
Christopher
Johnson
Telephone: (323) 960-4846
Mobile: (310) 866-9913
Christopher.johnson@aidshealth.org