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West Hollywood officials warn gay men of deadly strain of meningitis

Friday, April 12, 2013
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WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Officials warned sexually active gay men on Friday to beware of a potentially deadly health threat after a case of bacterial meningitis was detected in Los Angeles County.

Tests were being done to see if the strain of illness is similar to the meningococcal infections that circulated among gay men in New York City and infected 22 people, resulting in seven fatalities, since 2010.

“We don’t want to panic people,” West Hollywood Councilmember John Duran said. “But we learned 30 years ago the consequences of delay in the response to AIDS.”

The illness could be spread by sex and kissing but not by casual contact.

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.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say catching the illness isn’t always a death sentence, but bacterial meningitis is usually severe. Those who survive might suffer serious complications including brain damage and hearing loss.

In the U.S., about 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis, including 500 deaths, occurred between 2003 and 2007, the CDC reports.

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