Meningitis outbreak kills 2 in Michigan

5:44 PM, Oct 8, 2012   |    comments
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Lansing, MI (WZZM)- The number of people infected with fungal meningitis continues to rise across the country. In Michigan, two people have died and 22 others are sick.

It was caused by contaminated epidural steroids sent from a Massachusetts company. In Michigan, facilities in Grand Blanc, Brighton, Traverse city and Warren received that contaminated product.

"We've had cases in the past, but in terms of an outbreak, I haven't seen anything like this in my 25-years," says Dr. Dean Sienko, Interim Chief Medical Executive for the Michigan Department of Community Health. He says the contaminated steroid injections were used to treat back, joint, and knee pain. "A contaminated product was injected into the body."

The infected patients received an injection, prepared by the New England Compounding Center in Massachussetts. The contaminated batches were then sent to several states, including Michigan.
"So, CDC says if you've been exposed as early as in late may and you have symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately."

The contaminated product travels to the brain and causes inflammation. In some people its caused a stroke. "The classic symptoms of meningitis are headache, sensitivity to light in the eyes, stiff neck, aches and fever."

But, like viral and bacterial, fungal meningitis is not communicable. "This is not transmitted from person to person, this is something that is a health issue for the person that's been exposed. It's not to their loved-ones, not to people who are close to them."

So far, fungal meningitis has shown up in nine states. There are 105 confirmed cases and eight deaths. As the investigation continues, those numbers are expected to rise.

Detroit Free Press

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