Two Die In Cluster Of Meningitis Cases At Outpatient Facility
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An outpatient facility in Nashville has voluntarily shut down for the immediate future after a "cluster" of cases of meningitis involving two deaths.
At a briefing Monday afternoon, State Department of Health commissioner John Dreyzehner said Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center closed on September 20 after 11 patients, between the ages of 40 and 80, tested positive for the disease after undergoing lumbar epidural steroid injections at the facility.
One patient treated at a facility in another state also contracted the disease. Two people died, but no children were sickened.
Officials said the form of meningitis the patients contracted is not viral or bacterial, and cannot be transmitted from person to person.
Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery will not re-open until the CDC is confident all concerns have been resolved. Spokesperson Rebecca Climer said the facility voluntarily closed.
According to officials, 737 patients who had the injection at the facility between July 30 and September 20 have been notified.
"This is a different kind of meningitis. It's a serious disease. Fortunately, its not catching, it can't be spread from person to person," said Dr. William Shaffner, from Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
St. Thomas Hospital was not affected. No cases involving other medical facilities in Tennessee have been identified.
The Department of Health said this is "very, very unusual," and they "are trying to be as transparent as possible."
Dreyzehner also said the epidural injections are used across the country, and it's possible that at least a dozen other states are potentially affected.
The CDC, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the facility itself, other hospitals providing follow-up care and many members of the TDH team are involved in the ongoing investigation, studying all factors that could cause meningitis.
Meningitis is a general term for an infection or inflammation of the lining of the brain and the central nervous system.
A hotline has been set up to answer questions from the public about this cluster of meningitis cases at 1-800-222-1222.