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Posted on Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

Fungal meningitis outbreak puzzling for Ann Arbor hospitals, patients

By Amy Biolchini

A deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis caused by doses of contaminated injectable steroids that doctors unknowingly administered to about 14,000 patients across the country hit extremely close to home for many individuals in Washtenaw County, The Ann magazine reports.

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Superior Township quickly became a national epicenter of treating deadly fungal meningitis outbreak, as doctors and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention faced a rare illness with no known course of treatment.

Some of the patients’ stories ended tragically, as was the case for 61-year-old Lyn Laperriere of Milan. His wife, Penny Laperriere, gave her permission for Lyn to be removed from life support days before the couple’s 10th wedding anniversary, according to the report.

Lyn Laperriere is among 14 Michigan residents who have died in the outbreak since the end of September. The most recent death is of an 87-year-old Washtenaw County woman who died Dec. 30.

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 : 1:53 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

say it plain

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

I don't object to the headline term 'puzzling' per se; I object to the implication here that somehow this was an "outbreak", as though an unknown environmental hazard had to be teased out from a pattern of infection evidence. This situation is a failure of our systems for patient safety, pure and simple. Which these medications were not, pure, and that we are so cavalier about what we're willing to inject into people's bodies is simply astounding.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

The Focus on Fungal Meningitis: We continue to give our undivided attention to the problem caused by a fungus. I want to give my attention to the human person. The story about 61-year-old Lyn Laperriere of Milan begins with receiving a routine steroid injection for back pain. Pain is a mere symptom and it fails to describe the underlying disease process. I have to know the justification for this symptomatic treatment to understand its value. This Methyl Prednisolone Acetate medication is dispensed in amber colored vials and it would be difficult to visually inspect the drug prior to injecting the same. In the past, mostly glass syringes were used where the medication could still be visually checked prior to administering the injection. I want to know as to what precautions have been used to visually inspect this contaminated medication prior to its use.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Excellent and interesting story in The Ann. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. It's so sad what these people have to endure. A completely senseless tragedy that could have easily been prevented.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 2:12 a.m.

In the interest of public health and safety, the Ann Arbor news did the right thing by talking about it... and they did the right thing by pointing people towards the article in The Ann. Amy did the right thing, she did an important thing... and she should be thanked... not criticized for this. This is a very important issue, and it's good that Amy wrote about it.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 12:06 a.m.

Thanks for responding, Amy. I have been following all stories, as I rec'd injections from this clinic a year ago and am so grateful to be ok. Just didn't think it added much, but I may be wrong. Thanks again.


Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 7:55 p.m.

I don't understand the headline at all! Puzzling??? There is no puzzle about it. They know the cause and the difficulty and frustration in treating it. Nothing new in this article. Why was it published?

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Jan 4, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

Sue, today The Ann published a comprehensive look of how the fungal meningitis outbreak developed and the response of of the staff at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. The majority of the story we've reported here at, but myself and my editor found the piece by The Ann to be a good presentation of the overall picture and we felt it appropriate to share with our readers. "Puzzling" is a word I drew from The Ann story, and conveys St. Joe's unraveling of the connections between signs they initially observed in their patients and greater trends at the national level.