Meningitis cases continue to rise - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Meningitis cases continue to rise

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(10/10/12) - New country-wide numbers show nearly 20 more cases of fungal meningitis linked to contaminated steroid shots.

This comes after health officials confirm a 56-year-old Genesee County woman is the latest to die from the outbreak.

Health officials now say 137 people in 10 states have now become ill with fungal meningitis. Twelve people have died.

In Michigan, there are at least 28 cases of meningitis - including three deaths.  The other victims are from Washtenaw and Livingston Counties.

Meningitis is an infection of the brain and spinal cord. The Michigan Department of Community Health is taking this very seriously.

We've learned patient notifications are complete and they reached out to around 1,900 people.

"Most important thing that the public needs to be aware of at this point is this is a very specific group of individuals that have potentially been exposed to a contaminated steroid," said Angela Minicuci of the Michigan Department of Community Health.

The epidural injections were sent to four clinics in Michigan from the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts.

The Michigan Neurosurgical Institute in Grand Blanc Township was identified as receiving the steroids, as were clinics in Traverse City, Warren, and Brighton.

For meningitis to develop, the disease must have access to the protective membrane covering the brain and spinal cord. In a statement released on their website, MNI says no patients have been affected by the outbreak.

In fact, MNI provides pain relief for patients through joint injections, which they say can't access the protective membrane around the brain and spinal cord like epidural shots can, reducing the risk of contracting meningitis.

The contaminated lots date back to May and health officials all across the state are keeping a close eye on those who may have come in contact with the contaminated injections.

"As soon as we discovered there were cases in Michigan, we worked with the facilities to identify anyone that may have received this shot and we have already identified and contacted all of those individuals. Patient notification is complete, but we are still working to determine if there are or will be any additional cases of meningitis," Minicuci said. "This is not something that you can get from someone else, so the biggest precautions at this point, if anyone received that shot we're asking them to see a doctor if they develop symptoms."

Symptoms include fever, dizziness, stiff neck and headache. Be sure to seek medical help if you have any of these symptoms. Health officials say it will take anywhere from one to four weeks to develop symptoms.

They also say not everyone who received a shot will become ill.

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