St. Joseph Mercy hospital treating 6 meningitis cases linked to contaminated steroid
The hospital is the first facility in the state to link its fungal meningitis cases with a deadly outbreak associated with an injectible steroid manufactured by New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.
Patients received the steroid as a shot for back pain.
Four Michigan facilities received shipments of the steroids, and are working to notify patients:
- Michigan Neurosurgical Institutes in Grand Blanc
- Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton
- Neuromuscular and Rehabilitation in Traverse City
- Southeast Michigan Surgical Hospital in Warren
The six patients at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor did not receive the injections at the hospital and are all from the community, said Chief Medical Officer Lakshmi Halasyamani.
Halasyamani said doctors had observed a number of unusual meningitis patients in the hospital, and began further investigation after receiving notice two days ago that the contaminated steroids had been sent to Michigan facilities.
The six cases being treated at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor tested positive for the strain of fungal meningitis associated with the outbreak and fit the patient profile: They received epidural steroid injections after July 1 from a facility that receives its steroids from the company in Massachusetts, Halasyamani said.
“We anticipate many other patients will be coming to our institution,” Halasyamani said.
The hospital treats many patients from the Brighton facility and its satellite offices on a regular basis, Halasyamani said.
Halasyamani said the state is likely on the cusp of seeing more hospitals reporting patients ill with the fungal meningitis.
Halasyamani declined to discuss the age range of the six patients or if any of the cases were fatal.
Nationwide, the tally of deaths from the rare fungal meningitis remained at five Friday.
Tennessee's cases now total 29; Virginia has six; Indiana has 3; and there are two each in Maryland and Florida and one in North Carolina.
As a precaution, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration urged physicians not to use any of the company's products, and on Friday released a list of them.
All clinicians at the University of Michigan Health System are on alert for patients who could be at risk for the strain of fungal meningitis that fit the profile established by the CDC, said Kara Gavin, public relations representative for the Health System.
The University of Michigan Health System did not carry the company’s steroid, but threw out the rest of the products that it does carry from the company in question, Gavin said.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever.
The type of fungal meningitis involved is not contagious like the more common forms. It is caused by a fungus that's widespread but very rarely causes illness. It is treated with high-dose antifungal medications, usually given intravenously in a hospital.
Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at (734) 623-2552, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.