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Hopkins Researchers Stress The Importance Of Quick Diagnosis In Meningitis Cases

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BALTIMORE (AP/WJZ) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that fungus found in tainted steroid shots matches the one behind the national outbreak. At the same time, a major health institution in Maryland has formulated vital information for treatment.

Kai Jackson has more on how Johns Hopkins is trying to prevent the disease from spreading.

As a meningitis outbreak and fear of it spreads across the country, 20 people have died, including one person in Maryland. So far, 250 cases have been diagnosed. It’s a medical nightmare connected to tainted steroid vials at from a Massachusetts company.

Now, a new report is released about treating the disease.

“Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges which surrounds the brain and spinal cord,” Dr. Charles Haile, who specializes in infectious diseases at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC), said.

The report comes from a world leader in medical research based here in Baltimore.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital say quick diagnosis and treatment are critical in preventing serious illness and death from medications tainted with fungal meningitis.

Haile underscores the importance of diagnosis.

“It’s not unusual to see someone die from an infection like this if it’s not diagnosed,” he said. “And that was the problem early on because the fungus takes about three weeks to grow.”

The data was published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It follows the case of a 51-year-old woman who died of meningitis in September.

The woman went to an emergency room with a headache in August a week after getting an epidural cervical injection for neck pain. The researchers say the woman was released but returned the next day with vertigo, nausea and other symptoms and was admitted.

The article says the woman worsened and was transferred to Hopkins three days later. Despite treatment, the patient died 10 days after her first admission prior to being diagnosed with meningitis. An autopsy showed severe brain damage.

Others wait for diagnosis results.

“Waiting is a little stressful, you know, because you see the one person that passed away in Maryland,” Scott Amigh, who received the steroid injection, said.

The initial recall involved about 17,000 single dose vials sent to clinics in 23 states. As many as 14,000 people got shots from three lots.

Health officials say 15 have been sickened in Maryland after receiving the steroid injections.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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