(IDAHO FALL, ID) — An eastern Idaho man over the age of 60 who received an epidural steroid injection in September has been diagnosed with non-contagious fungal meningitis that is believed to be associated with a national outbreak being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is the first illness in Idaho linked to the steroid injections. The man is being treated for his illness, but because of HIPAA privacy laws, updates on the man’s medical condition cannot be made public.
Nationally, including the Idaho case, an estimated 138 people from 11 states have become ill with fungal meningitis that is linked to the investigation, with 12 deaths reported. The epidural steroid injections are generally used for people with back pain. All infected patients received an injection with preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate prepared by New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. The New England Compounding Center has been closed, with all of its products being recalled or withheld from use. Seventy-six facilities from 23 states received shipments of the potentially contaminated epidural injections being investigated.
Two Idaho facilities received shipments of the recalled injections — Walter Knox Memorial Hospital in Emmett, and Pain Specialists of Idaho in Idaho Falls. From the initial investigation, four people received injections from Walter Knox, while the Idaho Falls pain clinic treated 35 people. Both Idaho facilities received shipments of the recalled injections after July 1. Nationally, the CDC estimates 13,000 people received epidural injections from possibly contaminated steroids.
“We are very concerned for this patient and are working closely with his physicians,” says Idaho State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn, M.D. “We urge patients who received injections from either of these facilities to maintain close contact with their medical providers and notify them if any new symptoms develop over the next few weeks.”
Symptoms may include a new or worsening headache, dizziness, fever, nausea, and sensitivity to light. A number of people who became ill also had symptoms of stroke, such as weakness or difficulty with speech. Most of the illnesses are being reported one to four weeks after the injection was received. Fungal meningitis is not transmitted from person to person.
We will provide updates as new information becomes available. For additional information and up-to-date national case counts, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at: http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/outbreaks/meningitis.html
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Adam Forsgren, EastIdahoNews.com Columnist