Meningitis deaths reach 15 - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Meningitis deaths reach 15

Posted:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal health officials have tracked down 12,000 of the roughly 14,000 people who may have received contaminated steroid shots in the nation's growing meningitis outbreak, warning Thursday that patients will need to keep watch for symptoms of the deadly infection for months.

"We know that we are not out of the woods yet," Dr. J. Todd Weber of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said as the death toll reached 15.

Of the 205 people sickened in the outbreak, all but one have a rare fungal form of meningitis after receiving suspect steroid shots for back pain, the CDC said. The other case is an ankle infection discovered in Michigan; steroid shots also can be given to treat aching knees, shoulders or other joints.

Fungus has been found in at least 50 vials of an injectable steroid medication made at a specialty compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts, investigators said. Health authorities haven't yet said how they think the medication was contaminated, but they have ruled out other suspects - other products used in administering the shots - and the focus continues to be on that pharmacy, the New England Compounding Center.

Compounding pharmacies traditionally supply products that aren't commercially available, unlike the steroid at issue in the outbreak. And Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said it appears the company violated state law governing those pharmacies, which aren't supposed to do large-scale production like a drug manufacturer. Instead, they're supposed to produce medication for patient-specific prescriptions, she said.

"This organization chose to apparently violate the licensing requirements under which they were allowed to operate," she told reporters Thursday.

Company officials weren't immediately available to comment Thursday but earlier this week declined comment except to say they were cooperating with the investigation.

Idaho becomes the 11th state to report at least one illness. The others are Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.

Last month, after illnesses began coming to light, the company recalled three lots of the steroid medicine - known as preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate- that were made in May, June and August. The recall involved about 17,700 single-dose vials of the steroid sent to clinics in 23 states.

It's not known if all or just some of the vials were contaminated, or how many doses were administered for back pain or for other reasons. Those given joint injections are not believed to be at risk for fungal meningitis, which is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. A back injection would put any contaminant in more direct contact with that lining.

Symptoms of meningitis include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever. The CDC said many of the cases have been mild, and some people had strokes. Symptoms have been appearing between one and four weeks after patients got the shots, but CDC officials on Thursday warned at least one illness occurred 42 days after a shot.

The fungus is difficult to grow in lab analyses, and health officials on Thursday issued an unusual piece of advice to doctors: If a patient who got the injection starts to develop meningitis symptoms, he or she should be treated, even if testing is negative for the fungus.

The fungus behind the outbreaks was initially identified as Aspergillus, but as more testing of patients has been completed, it's become clear that another fungus - a kind of black mold called Exserohilum - is the primary cause. As of Wednesday, CDC's fungal disease laboratory confirmed Exserohilum in 10 people with meningitis and Aspergillus in just one.

Exserohilum is common in dirt and grasses, but this is the first time it's been identified as the cause of meningitis, said Weber, who is managing the CDC's response to the outbreak.

Health officials are hurriedly trying to determine the best way to treat this kind of an illness, and have settled on two very strong anti-fungal medications. Consulting with experts, they're making a best guess as to the dosage and length of time patients will have to be treated.

"This is new territory," Weber said.

Fungal meningitis is not contagious like the more common forms.

 

CDC information: http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/outbreaks/meningitis.html

  • NEWSMore>>

  • Persons of Interest Sought in Triple Shooting

    Persons of Interest Sought in Triple Shooting

    Beckley (WVVA) -- Police now say they have persons of interest after a triple shooting in Beckley...More >>
    Beckley (WVVA) -- Police now say they have persons of interest after a triple shooting in Beckley...More >>
  • Teachers at North Tazewell Elementary take the 'ice bucket challenge'

    Teachers at North Tazewell Elementary take the 'ice bucket challenge'

    NORTH TAZEWELL (WVVA) Teachers at North Tazewell Elementary School decided to take the 'ice bucket challenge. More than 20 teachers and staff took part in the challenge Friday...More >>
    NORTH TAZEWELL (WVVA) Teachers at North Tazewell Elementary School decided to take the 'ice bucket challenge. More than 20 teachers and staff took part in the challenge Friday...More >>
  • Firefighter injured in Greenbrier Co. now recovering

    Firefighter injured in Greenbrier Co. now recovering

    A firefighter is recovering at home after being life flighted out on Monday.  The Smoot Volunteer Fire Department in Greenbrier County says one of its men went out to fuel up the truck Monday evening...More >>
    A firefighter is recovering at home after being life flighted out on Monday.  The Smoot Volunteer Fire Department in Greenbrier County says one of its men went out to fuel up the truck Monday evening...More >>
  • WV educational leaders address business summit

    WV educational leaders address business summit

    WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS (WVVA) -Common Core, technology, and dropouts were some of the most controversial topics educators discussed Friday at The Greenbrier Resort.The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce wrapped up its annual summit, but not before those attending heard from the state's educational leaders.The education symposium consisted of a panel of experts in education within the state, from the Board of Education President, Gayle Manchin, to the new superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano and...More >>
    WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS (WVVA) -Common Core, technology, and dropouts were some of the most controversial topics educators discussed Friday at The Greenbrier Resort.The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce wrapped up its annual summit, but not before those attending heard from the state's educational leaders.The education symposium consisted of a panel of experts in education within the state, from the Board of Education President, Gayle Manchin, to the new superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano and...More >>
  • 'The Pride of West Virginia' performs for students in Princeton

    'The Pride of West Virginia' performs for students in Princeton

    PRINCETON (WVVA) The West Virginia University Marching Band performed in front of thousands of schoolchildren in Mercer County.The 400 member band, also known...More >>
    PRINCETON (WVVA) The West Virginia University Marching Band performed in front of thousands of schoolchildren in Mercer County.The 400 member band, also known...More >>
  • Man is arrested for growing pot in his home

    Man is arrested for growing pot in his home

    FAYETTE COUNTY (WVVA) A man is arrested for growing marijuana in his home.Herbert Wayne Bowyer, 62, of Lavista is charged with one count of Cultivation of Marijuana...More >>
    FAYETTE COUNTY (WVVA) A man is arrested for growing marijuana in his home.Herbert Wayne Bowyer, 62, of Lavista is charged with one count of Cultivation of Marijuana...More >>
  • Beckley Police Officer Remembered

    Beckley Police Officer Remembered

    Beckley (WVVA) -- Officers in Beckley reflected on the life of a police officer lost in the line of duty. Friday marked the 8th anniversary of the death of Cpl. Chuck Smith. He was killed during an undercover narcotics purchase on South Fayette Street in 2006. During the purchase, one of the suspects opened fire, fatally wounding Smith. "He was someone who was very eager to learn. He was always very interested in drug work. He took a lot of pride in that. He felt he could make a difference in...More >>
    Beckley (WVVA) -- Officers in Beckley reflected on the life of a police officer lost in the line of duty. Friday marked the 8th anniversary of the death of Cpl. Chuck Smith. He was killed during an undercover narcotics purchase on South Fayette Street in 2006. During the purchase, one of the suspects opened fire, fatally wounding Smith. "He was someone who was very eager to learn. He was always very interested in drug work. He took a lot of pride in that. He felt he could make a difference in...More >>
  • Man Accused of Robbing Kroger Enters Plea

    Man Accused of Robbing Kroger Enters Plea

    Beckley (WVVA) -- A Parkersburg, West Virginia man accused of robbing the Kroger on Harper Road entered a plea in Beckley on Friday. Jonathan James Rager pleaded guilty to 2nd Degree Robbery. Police said he went into the store last March and pulled a gun on the cashier. Authorities were able to track Rager down at a Days Inn in Bradley two days later. He faces up to 18 years in prison when he is sentenced in November.More >>
    Beckley (WVVA) -- A Parkersburg, West Virginia man accused of robbing the Kroger on Harper Road entered a plea in Beckley on Friday. Jonathan James Rager pleaded guilty to 2nd Degree Robbery. Police said he went into the store last March and pulled a gun on the cashier. Authorities were able to track Rager down at a Days Inn in Bradley two days later. He faces up to 18 years in prison when he is sentenced in November.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WVVA.
All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Audrey Sluss at (304) 324-0659. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at fccinfo@fcc.gov.