Virginia Warns of More Possible Meningitis Cases

Friday, Oct 5, 2012  |  Updated 4:47 PM EDT
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Meningitis Outbreak Prompts Maryland Alert

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An outbreak of meningitis has infected people who received steroid injections.

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Meningitis Outbreak Prompts Maryland Alert

Health officials in Maryland are calling hundreds of patients to let them know to watch for symptoms of meningitis. The patients all received spinal injections at clinics that got their medicine from a company in Massachusetts. News4's Richard Jordan reports.
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Virginia health officials said more than 600 people have been exposed to meningitis from tainted steroid injections, and there have been five confirmed cases of the disease.

In one case, the patient died, the health officials have said. The health officials said they expect more cases in coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control said they were investigating the multi-state outbreak, which they said was caused by a fungus common in the environment. The CDC said the meningitis was not contagious.

The tainted steroids were distributed in injections, often to treat back pain. The tainted shots were mostly in southwest Virginia, health officials said.

Two clinics known to have received tainted injections were:

  • Insight Imaging in Roanoke, Va.
  • New River Valley Surgery Center in Christiansburg, Va.

More than 600 patients at Insight received the injections, but fewer than 30 patients at the New River Valley facility did.

Thursday, Maryland health officials released a list of clinics that dispensed the tainted steroid injections:

  • Berlin Interventional Pain Management, Berlin
  • Box Hill Surgery Center, Abingdon
  • Greenspring Surgery Center, Baltimore
  • Harford County Ambulatory Surgery Center, Edgewood
  • Maryland Pain Specialists, Towson
  • SurgCenter of Bel Air, Bel Air
  • Zion Ambulatory Center, Baltimore

Health officials said those clinics have been calling patients to inform them. Hundreds of patients are potentially at risk, the officials said.

A Massachusetts specialty pharmacy is suspected as the source of the steroid that has been linked to an outbreak of a deadly form of meningitis. That company, the New England Compounding Center, voluntarily suspended operations Wednesday.

The center said it was working closely with the state Department of Public Health and other regulators to identify the source of infection.

The company said that immediately after it was notified about the infections it initiated a voluntary recall Sept. 26.

Health officials say the outbreak has sickened 26 people in five states who received steroid injections. Four people have died. Eighteen of the cases are in Tennessee, where a Nashville clinic received the largest shipment of the steroid from the Framingham-based company.

Three cases have been reported in Virginia, two in Maryland, two in Florida and one in North Carolina. Two of the deaths were in Tennessee; Virginia and Maryland had one each, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said.

The Massachusetts health department said it is collaborating with federal regulators and other states on the investigation. It confirmed the New England Compounding Center voluntarily surrendered its license to operate and has recalled the suspected steroid medication along with all similar medications it produced.

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