2nd Meningitis Case in NJ Linked to Outbreak

By Karen Araiza, Ted Greenberg and David Chang
|  Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012  |  Updated 6:33 PM EDT
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Health officials in New Jersey believe they have diagnosed a second case of fungal meningitis. The second case is a 57-year-old man from Cumberland County, New Jersey. NBC10's Ted Greenberg reports.

NBC10 Philadelphia -Ted Greenberg

Health officials in New Jersey believe they have diagnosed a second case of fungal meningitis. The second case is a 57-year-old man from Cumberland County, New Jersey. NBC10's Ted Greenberg reports.

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NJ Reports 1st Meningitis Case Linked to Outbreak

New Jersey has reported it's first case of fungal meningitis linked to a tainted epidural steroid. A 70-year-old Cumberland County man is said to be diagnosed with the illness. NBC10's Ted Greenberg reports.
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A second case of what is believed to be fungal meningitis has been reported in New Jersey, and in Cumberland County -- the same county as the first confirmed case.

Both cases are linked to the nationwide outbreak, which now spans 10 states and has claimed 12 lives.

The second New Jersey case reported Wednesday is a 57-year-old man. The first, reported just a day earlier,

Both men are recovering at South Jersey Health Care Regional Medical Center in Vineland. It's the same hospital where this latest patient was given a spinal steroid injection that likely made him sick. Health official say that injection could be contaminated. The man was given the treatment on July 12th and began having headaches a few weeks later. His symptoms got worse and he was admitted to the hospital yesterday, the same day health officials announced a 70-year-old man from Cumberland County was being treated for presumed fungal meningitis.

"Both patients that have tested positive are responding well to treatment and seem to be in good spirits," said Dr. Steven Linn.

Both men got steroid shots from one of the lots recalled by a New England specialty pharmacy. A half-dozen facilities in New Jersey received the affected product, which is used to treat back pain. 137 illnesses and 12 deaths, nationwide, have now been linked to the outbreak.

Both New Jersey patients are receiving anti-fungal medication and are responding well, according to doctors.

The outbreak is not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person.

NBC10 spoke to one woman who received two spinal steroid injections last month at a Vineland surgical center that received medication linked to the fungal meningitis outbreak.

"When I first heard about the meningitis I was scared," said 54-year-old Marie Halpin-Gallo.

Halpin-Gallo hasn't suffered any symptoms but she tells NBC10 she's had plenty of anxiety.

"It's your life," said Halpin-Gallo. "That's a very bad illness."

After being notified about the recalled lots, Halpin-Gallo was among the people evaluated over the weekend.

"All of the people who were sitting there that day, all 20 of us were scared to death," said Halpin-Gallo. "We didn't know what to think." 

While many of the victims started feeling ill between one and four weeks after getting the spinal injection, the most recent patient received a shot on July 12 and started having headaches a few weeks later. His symptoms continued to worsen and he was admitted to the hospital this week.

"The incubation period appears to be longer than originally thought," said South Jersey Healthcare Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Steven Linn. "It's certainly possible that there may be more patients."

Halpin-Gallo, who is recovering from breast cancer, is hoping she's not one of them.

"I don't want to get sick," said Halpin-Gallo. "I'm already sick enough right now." 

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