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Posted on Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

87-year-old Washtenaw County woman latest Michigan death in fungal meningitis outbreak

By Amy Biolchini

An 87-year-old Washtenaw County woman who died Dec. 30 is the 14th Michigan resident to die in a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis associated with injectable steroid shots, state officials confirmed Thursday.

The woman is the third Washtenaw County resident to die in the outbreak, which has been linked to steroids manufactured by a Massachusetts company and contaminated with fungus. Three of the 14 Michigan residents who died received their injections at Indiana facilities.

Nationwide, 656 people have been sickened in the outbreak, including 39 deaths across 19 states, according to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state of Massachusetts is working to revoke the license of the New England Compounding Center, which authorities claimed violated the terms of its license by mass producing medications and distributing them across the country.

Three Michigan facilities received shipments of the contaminated steroids, which were used to treat back and joint pain. The closest facility to Ann Arbor is Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton, which has said more than 800 of its patients could be at risk in the outbreak.

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Superior Township has become one of the leading treatment facilities in the fungal meningitis outbreak in Michigan, and has reported 173 of the state’s 233 confirmed cases to date.

Eight patients who received shots of the contaminated steroid and sought treatment at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor have died from the illness, said Laura Blodgett, spokeswoman for the hospital.

The most recent death of a fungal meningitis patient occurred Dec. 30 at the hospital, which officials confirmed Thursday, Blodgett said. She could not confirm that the patient who died is the 87-year-old Washtenaw County resident.

Currently, there are 18 fungal meningitis patients at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, Blodgett said. Several dozen patients who were initially notified of their involvement in the outbreak are now actively seeking treatment at the hospital, Blodgett said.

The University of Michigan Health System has been tracking 16 patients to see if they will be developing any symptoms in connection with the outbreak, hospital officials said.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Unlike the viral or bacterial forms of the illness, fungal meningitis is not contagious.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Caroline Petrie

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 1:59 a.m.

The Meningitis Foundation of America (MFA), a national organization, would like the public & media to know that information is available regarding the diagnosis, treatment & prevention of meningitis. MFA was founded in 1997 by parents whose children were affected by meningitis. In addition to supporting vaccination & preventing meningitis, the MFA provides information to educate the public & medical professionals so that the early diagnosis, treatment &, most important, prevention of meningitis, will save lives. Meningitis is a dangerous & often times fatal inflammation of the brain &/or spinal cord that can leave survivors with serious life-long physical problems MFA would like to be considered as a news resource for the disease. For further information, visit the MFA website at www musa org. Thank you, MFA Box 1818 El Mirage AZ 85335 480 270 2652 World Meningitis Day 24 April 2013 www comoonline org Educate~Vaccinate~Eradicate


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 10:13 p.m.

Pain relief for the elderly patients: I am indeed sorry to learn about this death. Most of the stories posted by have discussed this issue in the same manner. I do understand that there were problems at the compounding facility. My concern is about the choice of this therapeutic approach to provide pain relief. The age of the patient is of particular concern. I would be happy if Amy Biolchini finds an opportunity to speak to a Pharmacy student at the University of Michigan and share with our readers the problems that directly relate to the therapeutic regime.

Free Radical Scavenger

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

This article says the State of Massachessets is working to revoke NECC's license. What's the holdup? How did they get to keep their license after the investigation in 1999?


Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

This is so very sad and very unnecessary!


Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

Dodged the bullet on this one. Had same injections from Michigan Pain Specialists in Ypsilanti. Whew.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 10:07 p.m.

It may be the same company, but it did not receive shipments of the contaminated steroid as the Brighton facility did, according to the state health department working in conjunction with the CDC.

UM Rocks

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

Its the same company

music to my ear

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 9:34 p.m.

do you feel safe to continue to have more shots.