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Gay man from West Hollywood dies of meningitis

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – A 33-year-old lawyer who contracted bacterial meningitis died at 6:42 pm Saturday after being removed from life support, his family says.

“Tonight our family made the incredibly difficult decision to remove my brother Brett from life support. He died peacefully surrounded by our family and friends,” Brett’s brother, Brian Shaad, said in a statement issued on behalf of the family.

“Brett was an extraordinary person. He was a loving son, brother and grandson, an attorney with a deep passion for social justice, and a dear friend to so many people. We cannot believe that this wonderful person is gone. We love you Brett.”

Brett Shaad fell ill after returning from White Party Palm Springs, which was held over the Easter weekend. He complained of feeling sick on Monday, April 8, went to the emergency room on Wednesday, April 10, and lapsed into a coma on Thursday, April 10. He was declared brain dead on Friday.

West Hollywood officials are warning the gay community to be careful and urging anyone who went to White Party to beware of the fast-moving and often deadly disease that can kill victims within hours of infection if not treated fast enough.

Bacterial meningitis is contracted through intimate contact, such as kissing or sharing food with an infected person. It is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, however.

In recent years, more than seven men have died in New York City from an unnamed strain of meningitis, and California officials are worried that an outbreak could occur here.

SDGLN reported on Saturday that there has also been an outbreak in meningitis in Tijuana, San Diego’s sister city.

People who are infected with meningitis develop symptoms within three to seven days after being exposed to the bacteria, health officials say.
Typically, a victim of meningitis gets a fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and complains of a stiff neck. Then a rash spreads rapidly, leading to an inflammation of the lining of the brain and the spinal cord. Death can come within hours, if the victim has not sought treatment quickly enough.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there were about 500 deaths out of 4,100 meningitis cases between 2003 and 2007. Survivors can suffer brain damage and hearing loss, among other consequences.