2 additional cases identified in meningitis 'outbreak' - WKRN News 2

2 additional cases identified in meningitis 'outbreak'

Posted: Updated: Oct 2, 2012 02:45 PM

The Tennessee Department of Health has identified two additional cases of suspected fungal meningitis as part of a larger "outbreak" of cases.

The cases bring the total number of patients infected with what is believed to be aspergillus meningitis to 13.  All underwent lumbar epidural steroid injections at Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center in Nashville between July 31 and September 20.

Two patients have died.

Aspergillus meningitis is rare and typically affects patients who have weakened immune systems.  It is very rare for patients with good immune systems to test positive for the disease.

The Tennessee Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control are investigating to try to pinpoint the source of the infection.  The equipment used in the procedure was produced outside of the state and at least a dozen other states could be involved. 

In a news conference Tuesday, state health officials identified the Specialty Surgery Center in Crossville as a facility that received the same product received by Saint Thomas that could be linked to the infection.

The facility has pulled the medication, which the manufacturer has also voluntarily recalled, officials said.

The Specialty Surgery Center has not closed but has stopped performing lumbar epidural steroid injections.

An estimated 100 to 200 patients at the clinic underwent the procedure prior to September 20, when the first meningitis case was reported and the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center voluntarily closed.

The center was in the process of contacting those patients.

With the additional two cases, Dr. David Reagan, Chief Medical Officer for the Tennessee Department of Health, said they feel confident calling the meningitis cases an outbreak after shying away from the term on Monday.

The outbreak, however, has no connection to other cases of viral or bacterial meningitis cases that have recently occurred in Tennessee.

Anyone with concerns should call the state hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

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