Tristate patients received steroid linked to meningitis outbreak - New York News

Tristate patients received steroid linked to meningitis outbreak

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A steroid injected linked to a fatal outbreak of fungal meningitis was given to dozens of patients in New Jersey and Connecticut and possibly also in New York, officials said.

Six medical offices in New Jersey used the steroid, mostly to treat back pain, the AP reported. Some of the patients did in fact receive medication from the recalled lots.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health said one medical practice in that state received medication from an affected lot and that as many as 39 patients may have received spinal injections.

"The facility is actively contacting these patients and has reached the majority of them. Of those contacted, none of the patients have had concerning symptoms or required evaluation," the health department said in a statement. "During the follow up, patients are being informed of the current situation, educated regarding symptoms to look out for, and advised to call back to the practice and to seek treatment in the emergency room should any of these symptoms develop."

New York state health officials said three medical locations received shipments of lots implicated in the outbreak. Those lost have been pulled. It is unclear how many patients, if any, were given the steroid.

"DOH has just been made aware of a broader recall involving products from New England Compounding Center," the New York Health Department said in a statement. The department said it was working with the CDC and the FDA to "determine the broader distribution to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers."

More than two dozen people around the country, mostly in Tennessee, have been stricken with the rare form of meningitis. Five people have died.

The other cases are in Virginia, Maryland, Florida and North Carolina, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Virginia and Maryland had one death each. 

Meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges, according to the CDC. The inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Meningitis may develop in response to a number of causes, usually bacteria or viruses, but meningitis can also be caused by physical injury, cancer or certain drugs.

The severity of illness and the treatment for meningitis differ depending on the cause. Thus, it is important to know the specific cause of meningitis.

A health official said the steroid came from a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. The Food and Drug Administration identified the maker of the steroid as New England Compounding Center.

The FDA has warned doctors to not administer any products from this company after tests found contamination in a sealed vial.

Last week, the company issued a recall of three lots of the steroid — methylprednisolone acetate. In a statement, the company said it had voluntarily suspended operations and was working with regulators to identify the source of the infection.

FROM THE CDC: SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

Meningitis infection is characterized by a sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. It is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • Altered mental status

Symptoms of fungal meningitis are similar to symptoms of other forms of meningitis; however, they often appear more gradually. In addition to typical meningitis symptoms, like headache, fever, nausea, and stiffness of the neck, people with fungal meningitis may also experience:

  • Dislike of bright lights
  • Changes in mental status, confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Personality changes

Copyright 2012 MYFOXNY.com and The Associated Press

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