Meningitis outbreak spreads - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Meningitis outbreak spreads

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Family, friends and loved ones are remembering the latest victim of the meningitis outbreak. Diana Reed, 56, of Brentwood, Tenn., died after undergoing steroid injections for neck pain at a hospital center. Eighteen people with confirmed cases of fungal meningitis are being treated there.

"The whole thing is a state of flux. We are going day by day," said Dr. Robert Latham, the chief of medicine at Saint Thomas Hospital.

The Centers for Disease Control says so far, at least 47 people in seven states--Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, North Carolina, Indiana and Michigan-- have contracted fungal meningitis. Five of them have died. The

number of cases is expected to grow.

"We see the symptoms beginning one to four weeks after the injection occurred. The investigation is still ongoing," said Dr. John Jernigan of the CDC.

Health officials say about 75 facilities in 23 states may have received the tainted steroids.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. The fungal type is not contagious. Symptoms can include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever.

"We think that early treatment can definitely help and that's why patients who might have been exposed should be vigilant for the onset for the symptoms," Jernigan said.

The New England Compounding Center supplied the steroids and has recalled nearly 18,000 vials, but the Food and Drug Administration is telling doctors not to use any products from the center. Companies like the one in Massachusetts custom mix medicines that aren't always available and the products are not subject to FDA approval.

Health officials say it's still unclear how many patients got the contaminated injections and whether everyone who got them will get sick.

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