Reporting Monique Griego
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The number of cases linked to a meningitis outbreak continues to rise. Nationwide, four more deaths have been reported since just Tuesday, bringing the total to 19, including one Marylander.
Monique Griego has the latest from infectious disease experts.
Local doctors say the number of cases is most likely going to keep rising because many people are just starting to notice their symptoms.
This week state health leaders confirm a 16th person in Maryland contracted fungal meningitis from a tainted steroid injection used to relieve back pain.
The contaminated drugs put Patricia Pugh of Harford County in the hospital.
“Flu-like symptoms, really bad headache, dizziness, fatigue,” Pugh described.
So far, the outbreak has killed 19 people nationwide, including one Marylander, and more than 245 total cases have been reported.
And according to local disease experts those numbers are likely going to increase.
“I think people are more aware of the symptoms because of all the publicity,” said Dr. Charles Haile, chief of infectious diseases at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
He says not only are people more aware of the outbreak, fungal meningitis attacks the brain and spinal fluid. But symptoms can be slow to show and take up to a month to develop.
“It’s not unusual to see someone die from an infection like this if it’s not diagnosed,” Haile said.
Produced by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts, the tainted steroid was shipped to 23 states.
In Maryland it ended up in seven clinics.
The CDC is tracking the outbreak and because this type of infection is so rare, doctors are looking at new ways to it.
“Patients can and apparently have been making full recoveries,” Haile said.
As for those were received a bad injection, they’re waiting to see if symptoms develop.
“Waiting is a little bit stressful,” said Scott Amigh, of Harford County. “You see the one person who passed away in Maryland. I doubt it will happen to me, but you never know though.”
The four latest deaths were reported in Tennessee, Florida and Virginia.
The three drugs thought to have been contaminated have been recalled, along with all the products made by the company at the center of the outbreak.