NJ Names Facilities in Meningitis Scare

Patients who received steroid injections at six N.J. facilities are being contacted about the risk of contracting fungal meningitis.

Friday, Oct 5, 2012  |  Updated 5:28 PM EDT
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NJ Names Facilities in Meningitis Scare

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

New Jersey officials have identified the six health care facilities that dispensed medication that has been associated with a deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis.

Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd says no cases have been uncovered in New Jersey. The outbreak has caused five deaths nationwide.

O'Dowd says the epidural steroid injections were administered at Central Jersey Orthopedics Specialists in South Plainfield; Edison Surgical Center in Edison; IF Pain Associates/Isaiah Florence in Teaneck; Premier Orthopedics Surgical Associates in Vineland; South Jersey Healthcare in Elmer and Vineland, and Richard Siegfried of Sparta.

Those facilities are contacting patients who received the injections. O'Dowd says anyone who received an injection and hasn't been contacted should call the facility.  

All six facilities were determined to have administered doses from lots that were recalled last week by a Framingham, Mass., pharmacy that custom-mixes medicines.

Premier Orthopedics Surgical Associates told NBC10 more than 200 of its patients have received possibly contaminated injections. Doctors there said when they were contacted by the CDC in September, they immediately pulled the steroid.

Friday, doctors were inviting patients to the clinic for more information.

"We've established an action plan that first includes identifying those patients which may be potentially at risk and then we've set up a clinic starting today at 4 p.m. for patients to be evaluated by infectious disease experts," said Dr. Thomas Dwyer.

The Food and Drug Administration warned doctors not to use any products from the pharmacy, the New England Compounding Center, after tests found contamination in a sealed vial of steroid.
 
Tests were under way to determine if it is the same fungus blamed in the outbreak reported to have sickened at least 35 people in six states, leaving five dead. All received steroid shots for back pain. 
 
Fungal meningitis, which unlike common forms of meningitis is not contagious, is treated with high-dose antifungal medications, usually given intravenously in a hospital. 
 
Pennsylvania health officials say two pain clinics dispensed steroid shots linked to the outbreak. The clinics are Allegheny Pain Management in Altoona and South Hills Pain and Rehab Associates, a clinic with locations in several Pittsburgh suburbs.
 
Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include severe and worsening headache, nausea, dizziness and fever. Some of the patients also experienced slurred speech, and difficulty walking and urinating, according to health officials in Tennessee, where the most cases have been reported.

The time from infection to onset of symptoms is estimated at anywhere from a few days to a month, so some people may not have fallen ill yet, health officials said.
 

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