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DHEC: Potentially 257 Tainted Steroid Exposures in SC

7:21 AM, Oct 11, 2012   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The tainted steroid that has led to a deadly meningitis outbreak was shipped to only one medical facility in South Carolina. The Centers for Disease Control reports the tainted medication was shipped to Intervene MD in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

Regarding the Mt. Pleasant facility that administerd the steroid injection, Jim Beasley with DHEC told News19, "At this time, the practice has identified a total of 257 patients who might have been exposed. All but four of those patients have been contacted. And although a small number of patients were referred for further medical evaluation, no cases of fungal meningitis have been identified in any of those follow-up exams."

The CDC say 13,000 people may have been exposed to fungal meningitis.  The fungus was found in vials of the steroid used to treat back and neck pain and was shipped to 76 facilities in 23 states. The steroid was administered staring in May 2012, and was recalled September 26th.

So far twelve people have died and more than a hundred have been sickened. Because it can take up to several months to develop symptoms health officials do expect that number to rise.

The tainted steroid came from the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, which has since shut down. A compounding pharmacy has fewer government regulations than pharmaceutical companies; often they will be regulated by the state but not federal government.

Clinics where the injection was administered are alerting patients that they may have been exposed. Symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck and confusion.

DHEC's definition of fungal meningitis is as follows: "Fungal meningitis occurs when the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord are infected with a fungus. Fungal meningitis can develop after a fungus spreads through the bloodstream from somewhere else in the body, as a result of the fungus being introduced directly into the central nervous system, or by direct extension from an infected body site next to the central nervous system."

Fungal meningitis is not contagious. For further information, click here.

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