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Rare meningitis strikes two Floridians; health officials seeking others who got contaminated steroid

Florida health officials are trying to identify patients who may have been treated with a contaminated steroid suspected in an outbreak of a rare and deadly form of meningitis.

Florida has two confirmed cases of fungal meningitis in Marion County, an 87-year-old man and a 65-year-old woman. The state Department of Health did not say where the two received the steroid injections implicated in the disease.

The five-state outbreak has sickened more than two dozen people, all of whom received steroid injections used for back pain, health officials said Thursday. Five people have died in Tennessee, Virginia and Maryland.

Most of the cases are in Tennessee where a Nashville clinic received the largest shipment of the steroid suspected in the outbreak.

Fungal meningitis is not contagious like the more common viral and bacterial meningitis. Early data shows that all infected patients received injections with a preservative-free steroid (methylprednisolone acetate) prepared by New England Compounding Center. The lots of the medication used on infected patients have been recalled.

Florida officials have asked health care facilities that received the contaminated drug to contact patients who may need to be tested and treated.

Symptoms, which have appeared in infected patients one to four weeks following the injections, include fever, severe headache, nausea and such stroke-like symptoms as slurred speech. Fungal meningitis is treated with high-dose antifungal medications, usually given intravenously in a hospital.

Rare meningitis strikes two Floridians; health officials seeking others who got contaminated steroid 10/04/12 [Last modified: Thursday, October 4, 2012 9:11pm]
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