South Jersey Healthcare in Vineland

Press photo by Dave Griffin

Another Cumberland County man has fungal meningitis, the second time in two days that state health officials announced a confirmed case possibly linked to a tainted batch of steroid medication.

The patient — identified only as a 57-year-old man — received a spinal injection July 12 at South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center in Vineland, state Department of Health officials said in a statement Wednesday.

State health officials on Tuesday announced that a 70-year-old Vineland resident was also being treated at the medical center for fungal meningitis. That patient received a spinal injection at Premier Orthopedic Surgical Associates in Vineland on Sept. 26, they said.

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The patient at Premier received the injection before the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., told Premier it had recalled the product, health officials said. The company also provided the medication given to the 57-year-old man at the medical center, also before the recall, they said.

Those are the first two confirmed fungal meningitis cases in New Jersey.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday that 137 people in 10 states who received spinal steroid injections with the suspect medication have fungal meningitis. Twelve of those people have died, CDC officials said.

New Jersey health officials said earlier this week that as many as 650 patients in the state received injections of the medication.

When asked if New Jersey officials are worried about whether the number of confirmed cases might increase, state Health Department spokeswoman Donna Leusner said, “This is a continuing investigation.”

State Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd said in a statement issued Wednesday that “nearly all” of the 650 New Jersey residents who received the injections associated with the suspect steroid medication have been contacted.

“These individuals will need to be monitored for several weeks because it may take one to four weeks or longer for patients to exhibit symptoms,” O’Dowd said. “Symptoms include headaches, fever, nausea, neck stiffness, confusion and dizziness. Any patient who has had a steroid injection and is experiencing symptoms should call their health-care provider immediately.”

South Jersey Healthcare System officials were not available for comment Wednesday.

About 180 patients received steroid back injections at Premier and South Jersey Healthcare System’s hospitals in Vineland and Elmer.

South Jersey Healthcare System officials have said that 102 patients visited special clinics at the Vineland medical center through Monday for an evaluation from an infectious-disease physician. They said 17 of those patients were referred for further testing to rule out fungal meningitis.

State health officials said the 57-year-old man started having headaches two to three weeks after getting the injection July 12.

The man was contacted by South Jersey Healthcare System over the weekend about the possibility of having fungal meningitis, health officials said. The man was evaluated at the hospital on Monday for symptoms that included a worsening headache, stiff neck and sensitivity to light, they said.

The man was admitted to the hospital Tuesday and is being treated with anti-fungal medication, state health officials said.

The cases of fungal meningitis are not contagious.

Contact Thomas Barlas:


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