Reporting Alex DeMetrick
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Meningitis cases caused by contaminated injections have climbed to 105 nationally with an eighth death confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control.
Alex DeMetrick reports Maryland is part of that increase.
Three more people in Maryland have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis, bringing the state total to five. One of those patients died. All became infected the same way.
Fungus that triggers meningitis is all around us.
“A very common fungus, aspergulosis, which is found everywhere, especially in the dirt,” said Dr. Bill Howard, Union Memorial Hospital.
But it’s not easy to catch, until a batch of steroid used to relieve back pain became contaminated with it…becoming the perfect delivery system for fungal meningitis, which attacks the spinal fluid and brain. Slow to show, symptoms can take up to a month to develop. Produced by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts, the tainted steroid was shipped to 23 states. In Maryland, it ended up in seven clinics. Those exposed were called.
“He said, `Ms. Pugh, I have some bad news. We’re calling to inform you that your injection was tainted with meningitis and you need to go to the emergency room immediately,’” said meningitis patient Patricia Pugh.
From her hospital bed, Pugh said her injection at an Edgewood clinic happened in July. Classic symptoms developed.
“Flu-like symptoms. Really bad headache, dizziness, fatigue,” Pugh said.
The meningitis outbreak has sickened 105 in nine states, killing eight–including one in Maryland, where five cases are confirmed and an unknown number of others who were exposed wait.
“Waiting is a little bit stressful. You see the one person who passed away in Maryland. I doubt it will happen to me, but you never know, though,” said Scott Amigh.
“They’re drawing my blood every four to six hours. Within three days, I might be released but I’m going to be on antibiotics for two to three weeks after I get out of here. I have five children, so it’s very scary,” Pugh said.
Maryland’s Health Department will not release names or locations of the confirmed cases. Health experts expect more to surface.
When alerted, the Maryland clinics with supplies of the contaminated steroid immediately pulled the drug.