New Meningitis Death In Tennessee; Eight Nationwide
One of the vials from the three lots of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate, distributed by NECC, that were recalled after a deadly meningitis outbreak.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (NewsChannel 5/AP) - The death toll in a fungal meningitis outbreak continues to climb, as health officials promise this is far from over.
So far, 35 people in Tennessee have gotten sick from the tainted steroid injections.
Monday morning, health officials confirmed a fourth meningitis-related death in this state, that they say took place on September 26.
Then Monday afternoon, family members of 80-year-old Reba Temple, of Centerville, told NewsChannel 5 she is believed to be the fifth victim in Tennessee. Temple died over the weekend and was laid to rest Monday in Centerville.
Family members said Temple had received an epidural steroid shot at Saint Thomas for back pain. Initially, she seemed fine, but her condition deteriorated quickly over the last week.
Family and friends described Temple as a beautiful and caring woman who was very loyal. She was a long time member of the Centerville Church of Christ and worked at the Hickman County Health Department.
The Tennessee Department of Health has not yet confirmed a fifth death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated the count on Monday, saying 105 cases had been reported nationwide, including eight deaths. In Tennessee, health officials said the number of cases increased by three to 35.
Officials have tied the fungal meningitis outbreak to steroid shots for back pain. The steroid was made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts.
State Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner said Monday that officials "worked tirelessly" through the weekend to make contact with 66 patients who received the steroid injection with whom they had not yet been able to make contact.
Dreyzehner said the incubation period is still unknown, and approximately 1,000 people in Tennessee are at risk after receiving the injections.
It is not yet known exactly how many people may have been affected nationwide, though it could affect hundreds or even thousands of people who received the steroid injections for back pain dating back to May 21.
However, health officials said Monday the three clinics in Tennessee did not receive them until June 27. The clinics include the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center in Nashville, the Specialty Surgery Center in Crossville, and one in Oak Ridge.
The New England Compounding Center has recalled the steroid which was sent to clinics in 23 states. The government last week urged doctors not to use any of the company's products.
NECC announced Saturday that they were voluntarily recalling all of their products; a move, they said, was taken out of an abundance of caution because of the risk of contamination. A statement said there is no indication that any other products have been contaminated.
The list of nine states with reported cases stayed the same Monday. Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio previously reported cases.
Meningitis is caused by the inflammation of protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Fungal meningitis is not contagious as are its more common viral and bacterial counterparts.