Retired US judge, LGBTQI+ activist, dies of malaria in Buenos Aires

David Gernant, who was vacationing in Argentina, was admitted to Fernández Hospital but died within an hour

David Gernant posted pictures of his travels on his social media. Credit: Facebook

David Gernant, 80, a former U.S. judge who was vacationing in Argentina, died of malaria in Buenos Aires. Although he passed away on January 7, Argentina’s national laboratories’ administration ANLIS Malbrán confirmed he had malaria on Tuesday.

Argentine media outlets reported that Gernant was in Ushuaia province in southern Argentina when he started feeling ill and decided to fly to Buenos Aires to get medical attention. He was admitted to the Fernández Hospital, where he showed up with a high fever, anemia, and hypoglycemia. He was intubated and died within an hour. 

Gernant had recently visited Ethiopia, India, and Turkey, so it is unclear when or where he contracted the disease. The Herald reached out to the US Embassy in Argentina, but they declined to comment.

According to the World Health Organization, malaria is a life-threatening disease spread to humans by some types of mosquitoes. It is mostly found in tropical countries and is preventable and curable. However, left untreated, it can progress to severe illness and death within 24 hours.

“The most common early symptoms of malaria are fever, headaches, and chills. Symptoms usually start within 10–15 days of getting bitten by an infected mosquito,” says the WHO website.

Who was David Gernant?

The retired Oregon judge was an openly gay LGBTIQ+ rights activist and a Democrat. In 2016, he ran for a seat in the Michigan State House for the 80th district, promising to support the repeal of the state’s HIV-specific criminal law. At the time, it made it a four-year felony for a person who knew they were infected with HIV to engage in sexual penetration.

During his last years, he traveled all over the world, as his Facebook posts show.

Gernant was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on November 4, 1943. He studied at Western Michigan University and later at Harvard Law School, where he graduated with honors.


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