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No Meningitis Outbreak in Northern Nevada
Meningitis Outbreak Associated with Contaminated Epidural Injections
On Oct. 4, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a health advisory to health care facilities regarding patients suffering from strokes and meningitis. The illnesses were related to the use of a medication injected into the back for pain control. The medication, a steroid, was found to be contaminated with a mold, and the mold was causing meningitis. The procedure where these drugs are used is called an epidural. We are receiving many calls from concerned patients wondering if they are infected. They are rightfully concerned and need answers. As always Carson Tahoe Health has a strong commitment to our patients and community, and we feel responsible to give you accurate information, answer your questions, and help put you at ease. So let’s take this one step at a time and see if we can make sense from all the information available.
1. When the news first broke our CTH pharmacists immediately checked to see if we had the recalled drugs in stock. Fortunately not only did we not have any in stock, we do not use this product from this manufacturer.
2. Nevada is identified as one of the states receiving the contaminated drugs. The FDA identified and seized 5 unopened vials of contaminated drug from Southern Nevada, but no infected patients have been identified state wide.
3. The patients infected have a disease called meningitis. This is an infection involving the spinal cord, and the symptoms often include fever, head ache, nausea, sensitivity to light, and weakness. Meningitis can also lead to a stroke, and can be caused by many different germs. Some are contagious some are not. This type of meningitis is not contagious so the only people getting sick are the people who received the contaminated drugs. At first the CDC said the symptoms appear 1-4 weeks after the epidural procedure, but this has now increased to 8 weeks.
4. Since the company involved in the production of the contaminated drugs makes many other drugs, the FDA has issued a voluntary recall of all of the company’s products. Currently none of these products have been tied to infections, but until the investigation is complete, none of these products will be used. CTH only had one ointment used on the skin and that has been removed from stock.
5. All the information we receive at the hospital is shared with our medical staff so your doctors can be sure all medications in their offices is safe too.
I hope this helps answer your questions. This is a very scary situation and I can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting good, solid information. Check out the CDC or FDA websites for up updates. The story and facts will continue to emerge and change during the next few days and weeks. If you have specific questions about your procedure, call your doctor. Stay healthy and informed. Thanks for listening.
Doris Dimmitt, Hospital Epidemiologist CTH.