3 people have died of meningitis in LA County this year

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Three L.A.-area men who contracted meningitis this year  died in February and March, the L.A. County Department of Public Health reported Thursday. 

County health spokesman Alan Solomon confirmed to KPCC that three people had died. Two had been HIV positive, the department told the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

It's not clear why the deaths had not been disclosed previously. 

The Department of Public Health previously announced that it had seen eight cases in L.A. so far this year, four of which are among sexually active gay men.

Though the disease can be deadly, officials say they see between 12 to 30 cases every year. 

FAQ: What you need to know about bacterial meningitis in LA County (map)

The Department of Public Health announced Wednesday it will offer free vaccinations to people without health insurance beginning Thursday. 

L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Jonathon Fielding recommends vaccinations for gay men with multiple partners or who share drug paraphernalia since the disease is spread through close contact, including "sharing cigarettes or beverages or sneezing or kissing."

You can see a list of clinics offering free meningitis vaccines below, or see a comprehensive listing of L.A.-area clinics that offer the vaccine for a fee: 

Map: Free meningitis vaccine locations

 

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