Monday, April 15, 2013

Brother Of Gay Man Who Died From Meningitis Criticises Media & City Councilman

By Brody Levesque | LOS ANGELES, CA -- The brother of Brett Shaad, the 33-year-old West Hollywood resident who died Saturday after contracting a deadly strain of bacterial meningitis, is lashing out at media coverage of his brother's death.
In a statement released Monday, Brian Shaad said his brother's death was made even more difficult on the family by false rumors and misinformation that was widely reported after West Hollywood city councilman  John Duran addressed media outlets Friday. 
“At a time when we should have been focused totally on Brett’s care, our family spent a huge amount of time and energy trying to correct the news reports that resulted from Duran’s statements,” said Shaad. 
“Eight days have now passed since Brett’s first symptoms, and this still remains an isolated case. No words can describe the loss we just experienced, Brett was nothing but heart and he loved his family and his friends with an unconditional love we were privileged to experience. He will be deeply missed forever."
During a press conference last Friday, Councilman Duran identified Brett Shaad as the patient who had contracted bacterial meningitis. Duran also warned the gay community of the potential spread of the disease and later said Shaad had been removed from life support and died.
In his statement, Shaad's brother wrote:
As many of you may be aware there has been huge amount of misinformation about the time, circumstances and details of my brother's death driven by a politically-motivated council member and inaccurate media reporting. This was started by sensationalist and erroneous public statements made by Councilman John Duran of West Hollywood, which were then reported by Ari Bloomekatz of the LA Times, and subsequently put out internationally by the Associated Press. 
This information was issued by Duran on pure rumor and innuendo. At no point was our family contacted to confirm the information publicly stated by Councilman Duran - and at no point did Ari Bloomekatz of the LA Times or the Associated Press reach out to our family to confirm the facts. 
To add insult to injury, the first article published wasn't even about my brother Brett. It was about Councilman John Duran, alongside a large, color photo of the Councilman in the LA Times. 
[...] The irresponsibility of Councilman Duran, the LA Times and the Associated Press in announcing the death of my brother before we even had the chance to tell family members and his friends outside of Los Angeles is outrageous. There are a number steps we will be taking to ensure that politically-driven actions by politicians and reckless reporting by the media can never do this to another grieving family again.
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. According to the CDC, bacterial meningitis is not spread by casual contact, however kissing could cause transmission. Symptoms typically develop within 3-7 days after exposure, and include the sudden onset of: Stiff neck,  Fever,  Headache.
In the U.S., about 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis, including 500 deaths, occurred between 2003 and 2007, the CDC reports.