TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey officials have identified the six health care facilities that dispensed medication that has been associated with a deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis.
Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd said no cases have been uncovered in New Jersey, but in a statement said “This is an ongoing investigation and the full scope of the affected patients and facilities is not yet known.”
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O’Dowd said the epidural steroid injections were administered at the following locations:
- Central Jersey Orthopedics Specialists in South Plainfield
- Edison Surgical Center in Edison
- IF Pain Associates/Isaiah Florence in Teaneck
- Premier Orthopedics Surgical Associates in Vineland
- South Jersey Healthcare in Elmer and Vineland
- Richard Siegfried, MD, of Sparta
“Health care facilities that received this medication have removed the product from inventory and are working to identify and notify all patients who might have received injections from the implicated lots,” O’Dowd said.
O’Dowd said anyone who received an injection and hasn’t been contacted should call the facility.
Health providers in nearly two dozen states have been scrambling to notify patients that the routine steroid injections they received for back pain in recent months may have been contaminated with the deadly fungal meningitis.
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It became apparent Thursday that hundreds and perhaps thousands of people who got the shots between July and September could be at risk after officials revealed that a tainted steroid suspected to have caused a meningitis outbreak in the South had made its way to 75 clinics in 23 states.
The Food and Drug Administration urged physicians not to use any products at all from the Massachusetts pharmacy that supplied the preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate.
So far, 35 people in six states — Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, North Carolina and Indiana — have contracted fungal meningitis and five of them have died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
All had received steroid shots for back pain, a highly common treatment. It is not clear how many patients received tainted injections or even whether everyone who got one will get sick. The time from infection to onset of symptoms is anywhere from a few days to a month, so the number of people stricken could rise.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms like headache, nausea, dizziness and fever appear one to four weeks after getting the injection.
The type of fungal meningitis involved is not contagious like the more common forms. It is caused by a fungus often found in leaf mold and is treated with high-dose antifungal medications, usually given intravenously in a hospital.
The pharmacy involved, the New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass., has recalled three lots consisting of a total of 17,676 single-dose vials of the steroid, preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate, Massachusetts health officials said.
Investigators this week found contamination in a sealed vial of the steroid at the company, FDA officials said. Tests are under
way to determine if it is the same fungus blamed in the outbreak.
So far, there are no confirmed cases in the Tri-State area.
In Connecticut, health officials said the company sent steroids to one medical practice in the state, but no illnesses have been reported.
If you recently got a steroid shot and you’re experiencing any symptoms of meningitis, call your doctor immediately.
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