Three men have died after a reported spike in meningitis cases in the Los Angeles area. Now, public health officials are urging gay and bisexual men to get vaccinated.
Eight people in Los Angeles County have come down with the illness so far this year. KTTV reports the three that have died were gay men who got the disease after having sex and they all lived or hung out in West and North Hollywood.
KABC notes two of the three who died were also HIV positive, meaning they had weaker immune systems. Health officials are especially urging gay men who have had sex with multiple people to get vaccinated.
The disease can be transmitted sexually but also just through the exchange of saliva like kissing, sharing drinks or cigarettes. Many symptoms show up within a few days of exposure to the disease.
Those symptoms include a high fever, muscle aches and a stiff neck. Now, KNBC points out the public health department is offering free vaccinations to anyone who doesn't have health insurance in order to keep the disease from spreading.
"I think it's part of my responsibility to protect myself as well as not giving it to someone else."
"It is something that I'm paying attention to, and my friends are as well." (Via KCBS)
According to the Los Angeles Times, public officials aren't sure why the disease has affected gay men at a higher rate compared to other people.
Of the five people who survived, at least four of them have reportedly fully recovered. KNBC reports health officials didn't release information about the fifth person's condition.