UPDATE: West Hollywood Gripped By Meningitis Scare, Following Death of Young Man

A day after a West Hollywood attorney was declared brain dead after he exhibited symptoms of bacterial meningitis, residents of West Hollywood, Calif. have become increasingly concerned about a spread of the outbreak of the potentially deadly bacterial infection.


On Friday Brett Shaad (pictured), a 33-year-old lawyer based in West Hollywood, was declared brain dead just days after friends described him as fit and healthy.


Brian Shaad, the brother of Brett Shaad, issued the following statement regarding the family’s decision to remove Brett from life support Saturday night:

“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 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 was being treated at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Beverly Hills, CA. He was removed from life support tonight at 6:24 pm and passed away at 6:42 pm.

A spokesperson for the family, Elizabeth Ashford, issued the following statement:

“The Shaad family asks for privacy at this painful time, which has been made more devastating by irresponsible and inaccurate reports on the circumstances of Brett’s death. The family wants, and will pursue, answers for how and why this happened.”

Queerty previously wrote:

As several media outlets have reported, Shaad attended the White Party in Palm Springs, Calif. during the weekend of March 30, but there has been no definite confirmation that he contracted the bacteria during that event.

The disturbing news comes a month after the New York City Department of Health, responding to a number of reported cases, urged men who have intimate contact with other men to get vaccinated against the bacteria. The New York Times reports “at least 22 men have contracted meningitis in New York since 2010, 13 of them this year, and 7 have died.”

During a press conference on Friday, Dr. Maxine E. Liggins, with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, advised residents to be look for early signs of meningococcal meningitis. These include a severe headache and stiff neck. If detected early the disease, an infection of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord, can be treated with antibiotics. She noted that  it can also intensify quickly.

John Duran, a West Hollywood city councilman and one of the few openly H.I.V.-positive elected officials in the country, says in a statement: “The lesson we learned 30 years ago in the early days of H.I.V. and AIDS is that people were not alerted to what was going on and a lot of infections occurred that didn’t need to occur. So even with an isolated case here, we need to sound the alarms, especially given the cases in New York.”

News of Shaad’s infection has shaken residents of West Hollywood, who quickly mobilized to use forms of social media to raise awareness of the potential epidemic while city officials plan to partner with gay advocacy groups to post notices in West Hollywood gyms.

LGBTPOV‘s Karen Ocamb reports Duran as being concerned about the availability of sufficient vaccine to prevent the spread, if requested by people at risk. “We’re going to be working with our partners at the Gay and Lesbian Center, as well as the pharmacies in town, to make sure we have – if necessary – enough vaccines to get it out there to prevent the spread of meningitis,” he says.

According to Huffington Post, Duran plans to introduce an urgency item on Monday to appropriate $20,000 for vaccines, for those who can’t afford them otherwise. “I think the county health department is dragging its feet and we don’t have the luxury of waiting,” he said. The vaccine will prevent invasive meningococcal disease from taking root but does not treat the disease if a person is already infected.

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  • oilburner

    These are the consequences of being promiscuous. Aids & Hep C haven’t taught anyone a lesson I guess.

  • Michael

    HIV and HEP C have nothing to do with being promiscuous, they are just diseases that anyone can catch. I cant believe they would let a closed minded comment like that thru. this bacteria is spread like the cold. I dont judge people and say things like you have cancer because your dumb its just a hateful and retarded comment that dosnt do anybody good.

  • Hollywood1on1

    @oilburner What you’re saying is just being irresponsible and rude. No one knows yet how this young man contracted meningitis and you’re calling him promiscuous. You DON’T have to have sexual contact with someone to contract meningitis. We should stick to the known facts and science before we start maligning the dead. That seems to be a lesson you never learned.

  • Daniel-Reader

    According to the Cleveland Clinic:

    What is meningitis?
    Meningitis is an infection of the membranes (meninges) surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can be caused by a bacterial, fungal or viral infection. Meningitis can be acute, with a quick onset of symptoms, it can be chronic, lasting a month or more, or it can be mild or aseptic. Anyone experiencing symptoms of meningitis should see a doctor immediately.

    What is bacterial meningitis?
    Acute bacterial meningitis is the most common form of meningitis. Approximately 80 percent of all cases are acute bacterial meningitis. Bacterial meningitis can be life threatening. The infection can cause the tissues around the brain to swell. This in turn interferes with blood flow and can result in paralysis or even stroke.

    What causes bacterial meningitis?
    The bacteria most often responsible for bacterial meningitis are common in the environment and can also be found in your nose and respiratory system without causing any harm.

    Sometimes meningitis occurs for no known reason. Other times it occurs after a head injury or after you have had an infection and your immune system is weakened.

    Who gets bacterial meningitis?
    Children between the ages of one month and two years are the most susceptible to bacterial meningitis.

    Adults with certain risk factors are also susceptible. You are at higher risk if you abuse alcohol, have chronic nose and ear infections, sustain a head injury or get pneumococcal pneumonia.

    You are also at higher risk if you have a weakened immune system, have had your spleen removed, are on corticosteroids because of kidney failure or have a sickle cell disease.

    Additionally, if you have had brain or spinal surgery or have had a widespread blood infection you are also a higher risk for bacterial meningitis.

    Outbreaks of bacterial meningitis also occur in living situations where you are in close contact with others, such as college dormitories or military barracks.

    What are the symptoms of bacterial meningitis?
    You want to watch for high fever, headaches, and an inability to lower your chin to your chest due to stiffness in the neck.

    In older children and adults, you may see confusion, irritability, increasing drowsiness. Seizures and stroke may occur.

    In young children, the fever may cause vomiting and they may refuse to eat. Young children may become very irritable and cry. There may be seizures. Also, because the fluid around the skull may become blocked their heads may swell.

    The onset of symptoms is fast, within 24 hours. If allowed to progress, you can die from bacterial meningitis.

    How is bacterial meningitis diagnosed?
    It is important that you seek immediate medical assistance if you suspect meningitis.

    Your doctor will conduct a physical exam. Your doctor will look for a purple or red rash on the skin. Your doctor will check your neck for stiffness and will exam hip and knee flexion.

    Your doctor will have to decide if the cause is bacterial, viral or fungal and will have to analyze your spinal fluid so a spinal tap will be ordered.

    Your blood and urine may also be analyzed as well as the mucous from your nose and throat.

    How is bacterial meningitis treated?
    Bacterial meningitis is treated with antibiotics. A general intravenous antibiotic with a corticosteroid to bring down the inflammation may be prescribed even before all the test results are in. When the specific bacteria are identified, your doctor may decide to change antibiotics. In addition to antibiotics, it will be important to replenish fluids lost from loss of appetite, sweating, vomiting and diarrhea.

    Can bacterial meningitis be cured?
    There is a 10 percent death rate from bacterial meningitis but if diagnosed and treated early enough, most people recover.

    Are there ever complications?
    Unfortunately, if treatment is not undergone immediately, there may be permanent damage. Seizures, mental impairment and paralysis may be life long.

    Is bacterial meningitis contagious?
    You should encourage anyone who you have come into close contact with to seek preventative treatment. Anyone who you have had casual contact should not be affected.

    Is there a vaccine for bacterial meningitis?
    Yes, a vaccine is available, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has specific guidelines regarding who should receive the vaccine.

    The CDC recommends the meningococcal vaccine for:
    All children and adolescents ages 11 through 18
    College freshmen living in dormitories
    Military recruits
    Scientists routinely exposed to meningococcal bacteria
    Anyone traveling to or living in a part of the world where the disease is common, such as Africa
    Anyone with a damaged spleen or who has had his or her spleen removed
    Anyone who has terminal complement component deficiency (an immune system disorder)

  • gaymaniac

    @ Hollywood1on1
    As a proud condom-nazi, I will advise you to read first and write later:

    This disease is spread by prolonged close contact with nose or throat discharges from an infected person. Examples of prolonged contact include living in the same household or intimate activities, including kissing and sexual contact.

    Having said that, it is possible that Mr. Shaad contacted the bacteria from one person and therefor he could hardly be described as promiscuous. Fact is, we have a health issue in the community again and people have to start reacting to that.

    This is no HIV or Hep C, so go and take the vaccine NOW!!! This is simply a 5 min procedure, that would save you and those you love too. There is absolutely no excuse for not doing this. Get off your lazy ass and go to your doctor or GP or hospital or pharmacy and DO IT!

  • niles

    While hysteria and cries of a new “gay plague” in the media are unfounded, it is really inexcusable on the part of the planners of the “White Party” that people were not warned to take precautions since the cases in New York were well known at the time.

  • hf2hvit

    @oilburner: Not only are you judgemental, you are downright ignorant. Every year when college students fill dorms there is a meningitis scare. Many universities push for vaccines. It’s a respiratory-passed disease just like chicken pox. Sex is NOT necessary. Hopefully, your ignorance and judgement will only cost your life and not others.

  • jwrappaport

    @oilburner: They are also the consequences of having close, non-sexual, contact with an infected person – anything from being roommates sharing an apartment to family members living in the same house or kids playing in the same daycare.

    The Massachusetts Bay Colony called and they want their sexual shame back.

  • jwrappaport

    @oilburner: Oh, and the jerk store called – they’re running out of you.

    That’s better.

  • tdx3fan

    @oilburner: Funny, I sort of agree with you, but I hate the way you say it. Yes, you run the risk of contracting diseases when you choose to be with multiple partners, but that does not mean that you should be judged because of it. You should just realize that if you do contract something while you are being with multiple partners then the only one to blame is yourself. If you give it to someone else knowingly, you are also blame and should be prosecuted (regardless of what bleeding heart HIV advocates say).

  • tdx3fan

    @Hollywood1on1: Read the article… He was present at a circuit party in Palm Springs (where every gay hotel is a bath house and circuit parties are designed as drug filled orgies). Then he has been present at at least one bath in West Hollywood. He did not go to either because he was in a monogamous long lasting relationship. That being said, he should not be judged for his actions as long as he understood the risks and made the decision without later playing the victim card.

  • Aries3dc

    So many of these comments are sad and uninformed. Bacterial meningitis can be spread by something as simple as kissing. Most people wouldn’t think that kissing someone could kill them, but in this case, it literally can.

    This outbreak, as small as it appears to be, is now present on both coasts. That’s never a good sign when you are trying to contain something like this.

    Gay men should be vaccinated immediately.

  • tardis

    Some of you should watch the film Contagion. Wash your hands people.

    Anyone go to the gym and see people not wipe down the used equipment. What the hell?

  • viveutvivas

    Is there a specific strain I should ask for being vaccinated for? And where can I go for this kind of vaccination? I’m not in NY or LA and my PCP doesn’t like it when I ask for vaccinations. He refused me Gardasil.

  • jwrappaport

    @viveutvivas: Refused? That’s highly irregular. Insurance may not cover Gardasil, but it doesn’t make sense to refuse to write you the prescription. Anyway, meningococcal vaccine is pretty standard and is required for many American colleges and graduate schools, but here’s the 411:

    The idea that a PCP is resistant to vaccinations is frightening. If he gives you a hard time, threaten to (and do) report him to your state board of medical examiners. And then get a new PCP.

  • miagoodguy

    33 and still going to cicuit parties? It is a sad commentary that guys 30 and over still ty to act like they arre in thei 20’s and never grow up.

  • Raquel Santiago

    @tdx3fan: There were SOME like that I was there for the entire White Party. Not everyone is orgy obsessed, there were many couples there with their boyfriends and the White Party “entourage” is slowly changing dynamic. Now that’s not saying that drugs and orgies weren’t happening and also not saying that this isn’t a huge concern. That said, you cant blame the officials for a medical condition a person may have and not know about, its the same as catching a cold yet much more life threatening. At the moment all they have is a working theory, but more than likely since White party was only three days(four for some of us) he probably contracted it before he got there due to incubation times.

  • Raquel Santiago

    @viveutvivas: Doctors cant refuse vaccinations, get a new PCP. Any clinic will give them to you and so will hospitals.

  • Raquel Santiago

    @miagoodguy: Eh???? and this refers to the price of tea in china how?

  • viveutvivas

    @miagoodguy, jeez, it’s a sad commentary when a guy over 30 still hasn’t learned when it is appropriate not to open their mouth and let the garbage fall out.

  • Raquel Santiago

    @viveutvivas: well said, I was trying to be polite…

  • Raquel Santiago

    @tardis: Contagion actually is one of the closest movies yet to how a real life epidemic/pandemic spreads and what happens, granted there were still a few things that were way off buts it the closest one so far.

  • rarecargo

    such a shame, the white party is a disgrace.

    plus chris ward at raging stallion an falcon studios adam robinson are solely accountable for illegal activity that could damage the porn world.

    i partied with z. sire one time and he told me what you don’t tell people they don’t know so keep your mouth shut.

  • litper

    What a beautiful man. Very very sad news…

  • billforsyth

    Viruses and bacteria unlike humans are not prejudiced nor discriminatory.

  • miagoodguy

    Yeah it is garbage to point out the feckless lives so many gay men over 30 live. Had this 33 year old “grownup” not have been trying to act like a 20 something, he would still be alive. It is ridiculous not to point out the obvious that he was living an unhealthy life and those trying to excuse it are just perpetuating the bad habits.

  • the other Greg

    @miagoodguy: jeez, have you bothered to read any of the comments, or even the article itself which says “there has been no definite confirmation that he contracted the bacteria during that event.” Not everyone at a White Party-type event is having sex or doing drugs. Some are just dancing. (But how dare they, if they’re over 30!)

    So if only it had been 4 years ago and he was a 29 year old lawyer (!) you’d give him a pass?

    What’s with the cut-off date of 30? Are all gay men by age 30 supposed to be married, own real estate and have a “sensible” car that meets YOUR approval? (well since he was a lawyer, he may have had the last two).

    Are we allowed to use a skateboard after age 30? How about paintball? Do let us know the rules!

  • miagoodguy

    Yet another person excusing bad behavior and acting immature. I am sue he was a saint at the White Party weekend.

  • JKelly

    “bad behavior and acting immature” He’s dead. Satisfied???

  • miagoodguy

    Not satisfied when someone is dead (unless they are a murderer) but let’s not avoid the obvious that his actions lead to his death. It was avoidable.


    THAT IS, SO SAD!! :-( AdamHomo

  • EManhattan

    @miagoodguy – If you want to blame the meningitis bacteria for this poor guy’s death, fine, that’s totally reasonable. If you want to blame the victim of the bacterial attack for his own death, and think meningitis is somehow a punishment for naughty behavior – well, perhaps a fundamentalist Christian or Muslim web site would be more appropriate. They have very low standards for reasoning and logic, and are much more inclined to imagine that any bad happening is a supernatural punishment for naughtiness.

  • truthteller

    I don’t ever comment on some of the “news’ reported on the interweb but.

    Question? What is the definition of a whore?

    Anwer: Someone having more sex than you.

    Being responsible, gaining as much information as possible, and taking FULL responsibility for your actions is the world of being an adult.

    MIAGOODGUY does not deserve the type of attention he/she is getting. This is a troll and all of us over the age of 30 know this. In time, when he/she is over the age of disgrace, things will look different. The bigger issue is that in this day and age, with so much GAY PRIDE, the younger generation is still so ignorant about the beauties of growing older. And yes, this does include being able to decide if you want to, and can afford, to take a trip down to the White Party.

    The real issue here is about menigitis and how we protect ourselves and our brothers. Unlike HIV/AIDS we generally know how this stain for menigitis is contracted. There is a vaccine and we should take it. I am concerned that it has spread from NYC to San Fran so fast and that guys are dying within days. This is more important than teaching some child about manners and attempting to get permission from him/her as to how we grow older.

    If you are over the age of 30, just think about all of the wonderful things you have seen, and now look forward to. We both know that there is not enough money in the world to make you want to be under 30 again. For me, I’m looking forward to 40, 50, and 60.

    Let’s take a deep breath and see what happens with this menigitis thing. Hopefully, it will not be a new gay plague.

  • miagoodguy

    I always get a good laugh when people use the term “troll” when someone posts comemnts that go against the majority opinion.

  • the other Greg

    @miagoodguy: “people use the term “troll” when someone posts comemnts that go against the majority opinion.”

    Replace “the majority opinion” with “facts”!

    Mia, please go back to your knitting, and feed Tweety Bird. Stop worrying about all those SLUTS out there!

  • viveutvivas

    @ the other Greg, LOL :)

  • miagoodguy

    Exactly. “Facts” in quotation.

  • the other Greg

    @miagoodguy: So you think it’s okay for guys in their 20s to be sluts and die from meningitis? Or are there other rules for that?

  • beecherman

    I don’t get it….a young man has died unexpectedly and the authorities are trying to help others by notifying the local community and these are the comments people feel the need to post? WTF? Pull your heads out of your a$$e$, stop judging, and LISTEN! The message is this disease is out there and can be passed along to ANYONE who may be in contact with someone who is a carrier. One can get infected while at the gym, grocery store, church, etc. It has nothing to do with circuit parties.

    Brett is gone…it doesn’t matter now how he got it. What’s important is who he was in close contact with once he I was infected, and making sure those people are treated accordingly.

    It truly amazes me at how judgmental and self-absorbed some people are.

Comments are closed.