Not All Potential Meningitis Patients Will Be Treated
NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Health officials have said that not everyone who received the fungal meningitis tainted steroid injection will be treated, due to the serious health risks of the treatment.
Doctors said there are sometimes very serious side effects from the anti-fungal drugs. Officials also said that just a small percentage of people who received the tainted steroid shot will get sick.
"Unfortunately, the anti-fungal medication is a very, very powerful medication that has both liver and kidney toxicities. So, patients that get this have to have their liver function and kidney function closely monitored," said Dr. Corey Slovis with Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Doctors predict between 5 and 10 percent of the people who received the tainted injection will get sick.
"That means the great majority of people are not expected to develop an infection, so you'd be treating an awful lot of people with medications that have side effects and can have significant side effects who really had no need for it," said Dr. David Regan with the Tennessee Department of Health.
Two medicines are being used to treat infected patients Voriconazole and Liposome Amphotericin. Both are given intravenously.
"The side effects of the medication are serious enough that giving it prophylatically, giving it just in case is not good medicine," said Dr. Slovis.
Doctors are relying on educating patients about symptoms before running a test. If placed on the anti-fungal drugs - patients can expect to spend up to 4 to 6 weeks in the hospital.
Doctors appear to be having success with the anti-fungal medications. A doctor at Saint Thomas said he is treating 31 patients. One has gone home and another is about to go home. He's had one patient who has been on the drug for four weeks. A recent test showed the fungus was gone