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Another Meningitis Death Tied to L.A.'s Gay Community

West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran in April 2011 (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for GREENZYS)
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Health officials have now revealed that another death due to bacterial meningitis involves a second member of the gay community in Los Angeles, however they caution there is not likely to be a widespread outbreak of the dangerous illness.

Rjay Spoon, 30, died of acute Neisseria Meningitis on December 16 in Los Angeles, according to City News Service. Spoon lived in Downtown L.A.

Last week, 33-year-old Brett Shaad of West Hollywood died after contracting bacterial meningitis; Shaad's family removed the man from life support after he had lapsed into a coma and was declared brain dead.

In a recent press conference, "Dr. Maxine Liggins of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health told reporters present that 13 cases of the illness had been reported in LA County last year, but did not specify the number of gay victims nor how many of those infection s resulted in death," reports WeHo News.

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Additionally, officials confirm a 30 year old San Diego State University student who lived in Chula Vista, died of meningitis on December 10.

West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran has been vocal about the need for the community to be vigilant about potential infection, but at the same time he urged swift action and perhaps clumsily linked the spread of meningitis with participation in sex-focused gay events, Duran also asked the public not label the illness a "gay disease."

Wehoville reports:

Duran has been criticized by some members of the gay community for his efforts to publicize Shaad’s death, for seeming to link it to the Palm Springs White Party, a major gay event, and for suggesting that the disease could be transmitted at WeHo gay “orgies” and drug-fueled parties at WeHo gay clubs.

Some are taking a more lighthearted approach to the meningitis outbreak, including Queerty, who have a story called "5 Things That Are More Likely To Kill You In West Hollywood Than Bacterial Meningitis." Those things are: Air pollution, earthquakes, HIV/AIDS, car crashes, and cigarettes.

A more levelheaded response has come from the non-profit AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who are offering free vaccines this week. The CDC explains how bacterial meningitis is transmitted:

The germs that cause bacterial meningitis can be contagious. Some bacteria can spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (e.g., kissing). Fortunately, most of the bacteria that cause meningitis are not as contagious as diseases like the common cold or the flu. Also, the bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.

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