Meningitis Outbreak Patients Now Experiencing Infections
By Adam Ghassemi
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The fungal meningitis outbreak has made hundreds
of Americans sick and killed 36 people, with the majority in Tennessee.
As doctors tally the numbers there's a new wave of patients they're worried
about: people who are not only fighting fungal meningitis, but now infection
around the site of their original steroid injection.
"Some patients were being identified much later than expected
suggesting that there may still be patients with such treatable
infections," said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John
Thursday, state health officials said since Thanksgiving, they've tracked 23
cases of patients with infection deep beneath the skin. The boil-like
inflammation can't be seen on the surface, and could eventually reach the
nervous system and cause meningitis if left untreated.
"We're sailing in uncharted waters," said Dr. William Schaffner
who specializes in infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University.
Schaffner says this second phase of lower back infections shows patients
still have a long recovery.
"They thought they were, most of them, out of the woods because most of
the patients with meningitis, those illnesses have occurred, and now they're
being informed that another illness related to the same problem may
occur," he said.
Symptoms include pain at the site of the injection as well as numbness or
loss of bladder control, but this phase of the outbreak may not necessarily be
"We can only hope that we're nearing the end, the manifestations of
this contamination episode," Schaffner said.
As the problems with contaminated vials of steroid injections keeps causing
issues for innocent patients.
"That's why, frankly, this is such a tragic and difficult situation for
the people involved," Dreyzehner said.
Doctors will use the same medication to treat
this under-skin infection, as they do with meningitis itself.