CDC: Meningitis sickens 105; 8 dead - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

CDC: Meningitis sickens 105; 8 dead

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By Jonathan Serrie, FOX News - bio

ATLANTA -- The number of people sickened with a rare form of meningitis continues to climb. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials updated their count, saying the number of people sick is now at 105 and the number of people dead has reached eight.  Deaths have been reported in four states.

"Pain..it's to manage the pain," said Kelley Gaines, a patient.

The CDC has a bold warning.  13,000 Americans might be at some risk in an outbreak that's linked to tainted steroid injections for back pain.

"The problem is if that steroid is contaminated with fungus and it's injected directly into the spinal fluid that can travel up to the linings of the brain which are the protective linings and if those get infected, that's how you get meningitis," said Columbia University Medical Center's Dr. Philippa Cheetham.

The steroid was made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts, which recalled the product.

This particular form of fungal meningitis has a long incubation period. It can take up to four weeks between a patient being infected and developing symptoms.

The steroid was shipped to medical practices in 23 states and patients with symptoms, growing to more than 100.

Tennessee health officials are rushing to get the word out to patients, who may not even know they've been infected.

"In many cases, that meant knocking on doors and asking and answering questions," said Tennessee Commissioner of Health Dr. John Dreyzehner.

Patients saw this medication as a way to manage their pain without surgery.

"The procedures that they wanted to take..I'm not going to do surgery, you don't tamper with your spine, that's pretty dangerous, so I decided to try this route," said Gaines.

Even though this potentially contaminated injectable was recalled on September 26, some patients infected may not know it until mid to late October because of that long incubation period.

Online:

CDC - Meningitis: Symptoms, causes, risk factors
www.cdc.gov/meningitis/fungal.html

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