2 Michigan deaths linked to growing fungal meningitis outbreak, officials say
State officials say two people have died from an outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to a contaminated, injectible steroid, and the federal government on Sunday updated the total number of cases in Michigan to 20.
Six of the people infected with the meningitis remain hospitalized at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.
The Michigan Department of Community Health told the Associated Press on Saturday it would have no details about the deaths until after the weekend. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday updated the number of cases in Michigan to 20.
St. Joseph Mercy spokeswoman Lauren Smoker said Sunday that the hospital still counts six confirmed cases of the meningitis fungus but had no known deaths.
“I can say that they range from good condition to serious condition,” Smoker said of the affected patients.
The fungus has been linked to an injectible steroid used to treat back pain and manufactured by a company in Massachusetts. Four Michigan facilities received shipments of the steroid and were working to notify patients:
- Michigan Neurosurgical Institute of Grand Blanc
- Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton
- Neuromuscular & Rehabilitation in Traverse City
- Southeast Michigan Surgical Hospital in Warren
St. Joseph has said that all six affected patients received epidural injections after July 1 from a facility that received the steroid from the Massachusetts company.
University of Michigan Health System spokesman Pete Barkey said the hospital system hasn't positively identified any patients with the meningitis strain. He said the Department of Community Health has asked hospitals to refer suspicious cases to it for further analysis.
"We have referred some cases to MDCH for further analysis," Barkey said.
The health system earlier told AnnArbor.com it didn’t carry the company’s steroid but threw out the rest of the products it carried from the company suspected in the outbreak.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord that carries symptoms of severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever. The fungal meningitis in the current case is not contagious.
The AP reported Sunday that seven people have died nationwide and federal health officials fear thousands more could have been exposed to the fungus. The government has identified about 75 facilities in 23 states that received the recalled doses.
As of Sunday, the CDC says the outbreak has infected 91 people in nine states.