Health Officials Investigate 'Outbreak' Of Meningitis Cases
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Health said they continue to investigate what they now call an "outbreak" of meningitis cases, following two new reports in the last 24 hours.
Dr. David Reagan, chief medical officer for the Department of Health, said Tuesday that two new cases of a rare form of fungal meningitis were reported at Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center. Neither of those patients died.
The new cases come one day after health officials reported that 11 people who had received epidural steroid injections at the Center had contracted the disease. Two of those people died.
Officials said the Specialty Surgery Center in Crossville is now part of the investigation after the center received what public health officials describe as "materials of interest." However, they had not received reports of any patients who had contracted meningitis. A spokesperson for the center said they have stopped giving patients the epidural steroid injections in question, have notified patients who may be impacted, and are cooperating with the investigation.
Health officials said it's still too early to determine the source of the infection; however, three lots of injectable steroid used at the St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center have been recalled by the manufacturer.
Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery voluntarily closed while health officials investigated the cases. It will not re-open until the CDC is confident all concerns have been resolved. Officials said staff have attempted to contact more than 700 patients who received the injection between July 30 and September 20.
There were approximately 200 patients treated with the injection at the Specialty Surgery Center in Crossville as well.
Meningitis is a general term for an infection or inflammation of the lining of the brain and the central nervous system.
Officials said the form of meningitis the patients contracted is not viral or bacterial, and cannot be transmitted from person to person.
A hotline has been set up to answer questions from the public about this cluster of meningitis cases at 1-800-222-1222. Patients who were treated at the Specialty Surgery Center in Crossville are also encouraged to call if they have questions.
Meanwhile, four families, whose children attend Oak View Elementary in Franklin, reported cases of viral meningitis to the Williamson County school system. Doctors said viral meningitis is not as dangerous, and most patients get better on their own or with minimal treatment.
In September, a Middle Tennessee State University freshman and an elementary school student from Wilson County died from bacterial meningitis.