TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Health officials in New Jersey said there have been 37 cases of fungal meningitis reported in the state.
The cases are linked to a recall of a potentially tainted injectable steroid for back pain produced by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts.
Two of the cases are confirmed and 35 others are considered probable. In total, more than 500 cases in 19 states have been linked to the outbreak, officials said.
New Jersey health officials said there have been no reported deaths in the state and 15 patients remain hospitalized with the illness.
Four more cases were recently announced by state health officials. They include a 32-year-old Gloucester County man and three Cumberland County residents – two women, ages 44 and 87, and a 55-year-old man.
Health officials said more than 600 patients in New Jersey received the steroid injection at six facilities across the state between May 21 and September 26, and nearly all of them have been notified that they may be at risk for contracting the illness.
This type of meningitis has an incubation period of one to four weeks after receiving a tainted injection.
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 and is treated with high-dose antifungal medications, usually given intravenously in a hospital.
Health officials have cautioned more cases are possible because of the long incubation period of the fungal meningitis.
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