EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

October 4, 2012

Rare meningitis cases at 26 in 5 states, 4 deaths

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An outbreak of a rare and deadly form of meningitis has now sickened 26 people in five states who received steroid injections mostly for back pain, health officials said yesterday. Four people have died, and more cases are expected.

Eighteen of the cases of fungal meningitis are in Tennessee where a Nashville clinic received the largest shipment of the steroid suspected in the outbreak. The drug was made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts that issued a recall last week. Investigators, though, say they are still trying to confirm the source of the infections.

Three cases have been reported in Virginia, two in Maryland, two in Florida and one in North Carolina. Two of the deaths were in Tennessee; Virginia and Maryland had one each, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More new cases are almost certain to appear in the coming days, said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner. Five new cases were confirmed over the past 24 hours, he said yesterday, calling the situation a "rapidly evolving outbreak."

But federal health officials weren't clear about whether new infections are occurring. They are looking for — and increasingly finding — illnesses that occurred in the last two or three months.

Meningitis involves swelling of the brain. Officials say this type of fungal meningitis is caused by a common fungus often found in leaf mold. It doesn't normally cause disease in healthy people. Fungal meningitis is not contagious like the more common viral and bacterial meningitis.

Symptoms include worsening and severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever. Some of the patients in Tennessee also experienced slurred speech, and difficulty walking and urinating, Tennessee health officials said.

"Some are doing well and improving. Some are very ill — very, very seriously ill and may die," Dr. David Reagan, a Tennessee health official said of the state's patients.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
World/National News

Latest U.S. News
Former Va. Governor's Corruption Trial Begins Trial Begins Over OKC Bombing Video $15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. Maine Police Investigate Deaths of Family of 5 UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage US Evacuates Embassy in Libya Amid Clashes Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Obama Asks Central American Leaders for Help Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma
Latest World News
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Today in History for July 28th Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Violent Clashes Between Libyan Militias Today in History for July 27th Thousands at Peace Rally in Tel Aviv Raw: Sirens After Explosions in Israel Video Shows Smiling American Bomber in Syria Raw: Planes With MH17 Victims Land in Eindhoven Kerry Lays Out Ceasefire Goals for Gaza Family of MH17 Victim Pay Respects at Crash Site US Evacuates Embassy in Libya Amid Clashes Raw: Tanks Patrol Gaza Streets During Ceasefire Raw: Residents Come Home to Rubble in Gaza 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Today in History for July 26th Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash
Photos of the Week