A second homeless person in Boston has died from a potent bacterial infection, and another person was stricken with the same illness in recent weeks, prompting city health officials to indefinitely extend a vaccination campaign.
Since January, four men and one woman who frequent the city’s homeless shelters have come down with meningococcal disease, a bacterial infection that can get into the bloodstream or the lining of the brain and spinal cord. The first person to succumb to the disease was a man who died Feb. 15.
The next day, the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program launched an effort to vaccinate as many adults as possible, and so far it has administered shots to 2,400 guests and staff members at adult homeless shelters around the city, said Dr. Denise De Las Nueces, the agency’s medical director.
“It’s been a continued, aggressive campaign,” she said.
The most recent death occurred late last week, said Dr. Anita Barry, director of the Infectious Disease Bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission. The victim was a woman who had declined to be vaccinated, she said. Most people have agreed to get the shot.
Read the rest of Felice Freyer’s Boston Globe story here.
I wrote several blog posts about this a few weeks ago and it seemed at the time that public health had the situation under control. However, the question now is what can we do to interrupt transmission of this frightening pathogen. Any ideas are welcome. It’s tragic that here in the city of Boston, with so many teaching hospitals, medical schools, and schools of public health, people are dying of a preventable infection.