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Meningitis Outbreak Far From Over

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Edina, MNGary considers himself fortunate: he was given a steroid shot at an Edina pain clinic where four patients have shown symptoms of a rare fungal meningitis that has caused 37 deaths. But Gary isn’t out of the woods yet: Even though the risk period for the meningitis outbreak is over, new cases are still being reported.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) publicized a 42-day risk period as a way for individual physicians to determine whether putting all at-risk patients on anti-fungal medications was a good idea. This period ended November 7th but since that time more patients who received the tainted steroid have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis and spinal infections.

Gary was one of about 700 patients injected with the steroid from July 3 to Sept. 26 at Medical Advanced Pain Specialists (MAPS) in Edina. All 700 patients, including Gary, were contacted, according to Marsha Thiel, MAPS clinic CEO.

(Only six clinics in Minnesota received the steroid from the implicated New England Compounding Center (NECC), which begs the question why these clinics purchased drugs from NECC??"was it cost effective?)

“A few days after I got the injection for my back pain I got a call from the Minnesota Department of Health,” says Gary. “They asked if I had any symptoms such as fever, blurred vision, and acting intoxicated. As it turns out I had a number of symptoms on their list so they were quite concerned that I could have fungal meningitis.” As it turns out, Gary had a severe case of the ‘flu. “And no, I wasn’t drunk”, he says, laughing.

“They told me that I should go to the local hospital immediately and get tested. They also told me that I had received one of the contaminated shots but not to worry because not everyone develops this kind of meningitis. Don’t worry? It scared the hell out of me! When someone tells you that you were injected with something that can kill you, I figure that is cause for concern.

"The hospital was expecting me??"they had my name from the Department of Health on a top priority list and they had been instructed to test me right away. I had to get a spinal tap and that was a nightmare. A young guy??"I think he was very inexperienced??"tried a few times, to no avail. Someone else was called in and he eventually got a few vials of fluid. These spinal taps were incredibly painful; why couldn’t someone do a quicker and better job and give me someone more experienced?

"They wanted to keep me in for observation but I opted to go home; I told the doctor that my parents could watch me and I promised to come back if I felt worse. Thankfully I didn’t return to the hospital. They told me that I would hear from them within 48 hours if my test results showed anything suspicious??"that was almost six weeks ago. But one test takes about six weeks to get the results, so I’m not completely out of the woods.

"In the meantime, I heard from an attorney through LawyersandSettlements. Even though I wasn’t diagnosed with fungal meningitis, I would like to get some kind of compensation for the agony of these spinal taps. And I would like to get reimbursed for my medical bills.”

The CDC advises anyone who had a spinal injection of corticosteroids since May 21, 2012 and is experiencing any of the symptoms described below to see your medical provider immediately.

• Headache
• Fever
• Stiff Neck
• Sensitivity to Light
• Slurred Speech
• Weakness or Numbness in any part of your body
• Increased Pain, Swelling or Redness at the point of injection

Fungal Meningitis infections are slow to develop; if you had a steroid injection at any time, the CDC urges you to pay attention to the signs and symptoms of this disease.

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