An outbreak of an infectious disease is affecting a certain minority among Los Angeles inhabitants. The meningitis epidemic that is affecting only bisexual and gay men has puzzled health authorities. Local health experts are momentarily trying to guess the origin of this outbreak.
In the past two months, a total of twelve LA residents contracted meningitis. Among them, seven were bisexual or gay men.
Seven cases may seem like a small number, but it’s actually alarming. According to Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, a Public Health County Department interim health officer, the number of cases is much higher than the department was expecting.
The math is simple; LA County has approximately 10 million inhabitants. Out of the total, 300,000 are self-identified bisexual or gay men. Taking into account the fact that out of twelve meningitis patients, seven were members of the LGBT+ community, the coincidence is too big to be ignored.
Meningitis is an infectious disease that affects the meninges, the protective layer that covers the spinal cord and the brain. Its symptoms are muscular rigidity, intense light sensitivity, high fever, and pulsating headaches. Other symptoms include neck stiffness, vomiting, confusion, irritability, and drowsiness.
The inflammatory disease can be caused by several non-infectious factors like certain drugs (mostly anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal drugs, intravenous immunoglobulins, and antibiotics), sarcoidosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, vasculitis, dermoid and epidermoid cysts, or Behcet’s disease.
The viral form of the illness can be spread through close contact like sharing a drink or a cigarette, kissing, or sexual intercourse.
The doctors are still trying to find an explanation on why only the bisexual and gay men were affected by the meningitis epidemic.
One explanation could be that bisexual or gay men are more sexually active than heterosexual males. Another would be that bisexual or gay men have a tendency to be more personal, in the sense that they are big amateurs of hugs and kisses.
However, all of the current theories are based on social stereotypes more than on medical facts.
One of the doctors working on the case declared that they are currently searching for a common factor in all of the twelve cases. So far, after analyzing the history of each patient, they did not manage to find any common denominator of the meningitis epidemic.
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