First case of fungal meningitis reported in SC

  • Posted: 11/7/2012 4:21 PM
    6/1/2013 6:17 PM

A national health problem seems to have penetrated the borders of the Palmetto state as South Carolina health officials are reporting the first probable case of fungal meningitis in a resident.

Related to the ongoing multi-state investigation of steroid injections from a potentially contaminated product, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported Thursday that the growing list of those infected now included someone living in South Carolina.

"The patient is being treated with anti-fungal medications based on treatment guidelines recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," said Dr. Linda Bell, M.D. and interim state epidemiologist. "Fungal meningitis poses no additional risk to others, as it is not transmitted from person to person."

Bell said Thursday that the New England Compounding Company in Framingham, Mass., prepared the three lots of steroid injection implicated in the investigation. Nearly 14,000 people in 23 states were exposed to the potentially contaminated steroid injection between May 21 and Sept. 26.

Additional laboratory testing is pending to confirm the diagnosis of fungal meningitis in the patient and rule out other potential causes of meningitis. At this time, the case is considered "probable."

Only one clinic in South Carolina has been identified by the CDC as receiving the product that is thought to be at the center of the outbreak.

Intervene MD, a pain management clinic in Mount Pleasant, received the steroid injections, according to the CDC. Other regional offices which had the medication are in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina and a surgical center in Macon, Ga.

Nationally, 317 cases of fungal meningitis have been identified as of Thursday morning, and there have been 24 deaths. The CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are coordinating the multi-state meningitis investigation.

DHEC has been working with health care providers to raise awareness about patients who have symptoms that suggest possible fungal infection. All local area patients who received spinal/epidural injections from NECC have been notified and are aware of the need to contact their health care provider immediately if symptoms of meningitis or stroke occur. Symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, altered mental status and difficulty walking, speaking or moving, according to DHEC.

Most local patients that received other injectable products at other body sites from NECC have also been notified. Symptoms of infections may include fever, swelling, increasing pain, redness, warmth at injection site, visual changes, pain, redness or discharge from the eye, chest pain or drainage from the surgical site, according to DHEC.