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Local News

October 11, 2012

Bassett: Meningitis outbreak isn't local

The numbers of illnesses and deaths linked to a steroid injected for back pain have been increasing in a multi-state outbreak of meningitis, but officials at the local Bassett Healthcare Network said Wednesday they don’t believe their patients are at risk.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there have been 137 illnesses and 12 deaths linked to steroid shots and fungal meningitis since the first case was reported Tennessee on Sept. 21.

The steroid linked to the outbreak of meningitis isn’t used in the Bassett network, the health care provider said Wednesday.

Bassett Medical Center has received “a high volume’’ of calls from patients concerned about the outbreak, according to a statement provided by Bassett spokeswoman Karen Huxtable. The outbreak involves a fungal meningitis, which isn’t contagious, Bassett said. 

The steroid, along with other medications, made by New England Compounding Center, a specialty pharmacy in Framingham, Mass., has been recalled, and federal and state authorities continue investigating the outbreak.

No cases have been reported in New York.

The CDC said the 10 states reporting cases are Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.

The CDC was notified Sept. 21 by the Tennessee Department of Health of a patient with the onset of meningitis about 19 days after an epidural steroid injection. As of Oct. 4, 35 cases in six states had been identified, including five deaths.

Fungal meningitis is rare and usually the result of the spread of a fungus through blood to the spinal cord, the CDC website said.

Though anyone can get fungal meningitis, people with weak immune systems are at higher risk.

The CDC last week said the New York tainted shipments went to Dr. Sunil Butani in Mineola, Obosa Medical Services in Mount Vernon and Rochester Brain and Spine in Rochester.

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