A 70-year -old Vineland man who received a injection with a now-recalled steroid has been diagnosed with fungal meningitis, making him the first confirmed New Jersey case of the disease, health officials said Tuesday.

The man is recovering, and is being treated with anti-fungal medication at South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center in Vineland, state health officials said.

There are now 119 confirmed cases of fungal meningitis in 10 states, officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. CDC officials said 11 people have died from the disease, and as many as 13,000 received the affected steroid shots. New Jersey health officials said as many as 650 patients in the state received injections of the medication.

A steroid back injection at Premier Orthopedic Surgical Associates in Vineland on Sept. 26 is believed to be the source of the Vineland patient’s illness, state Department of Health spokeswoman Donna Leusner said. The injection was given before New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., notified Premier about a recall of the medication, she said.

State officials are not identifying the patient, but said he went to a hospital emergency room after developing headaches and a fever, which are fungal meningitis symptoms. Leusner said the man checked into the Vineland hospital “over the weekend.”

Premier officials were not available for comment.

State Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd said physicians need to “closely monitor patients who were administered steroid injections” from three lots of the medication recalled by New England Compounding Center.

South Jersey Healthcare spokesman Greg Potter said about 102 patients who received the spinal injections, including some from Premier, were tested for the disease from late last week through Monday. He said not all the test results are complete.

Premier and South Jersey Healthcare officials said Friday that about 180 patients received the steroid back injections from July 30 through Sept. 25. The injections are used for pain control, they said.

About 106 patients were administered injections, according to Premier. Seventy patients received the injections at South Jersey Healthcare hospitals in Vineland and Elmer, according the company. The injections given to 33 patients at the Elmer facility came from a batch of the medication not currently linked to any fungal meningitis problems, they said.

In all, South Jersey Healthcare and Premier gave out about 300 injections of the medication. The remainder of the shots did not involved spinal injections, which are the only ones so far linked to the fungal meningitis.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord caused by bacterial, viral or fungal infections. Symptoms include headaches, fever, nausea, neck stiffness, confusion and dizziness, state health officials said. The symptoms can appear between one and four weeks after receiving the injection.

Health officials are urging anyone who had a steroid injection and is experiencing any of those symptoms to seek immediate medical attention.

New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone and two fellow Democrats, Rep. Henry Waxman from California and Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, are calling for an investigation into the meningitis outbreak.

According to the CDC, this form of fungal meningitis is not contagious.

Contact Thomas Barlas:

609-226-9197

 

A 70-year-old Vineland man is the first New Jersey resident to have a confirmed case of fungal meningitis, an illness allegedly caused by a tainted steroid pain medication, federal officials said Tuesday.

The man is recovering, and is being treated with anti-fungal medication at South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center in Vineland, state health officials said.

There are now 119 confirmed cases of fungal meningitis in 10 states, officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. CDC officials said 11 people have died from the disease, and as many as 13,000 received the affected steroid shots. New Jersey health officials said as many as 650 patients in the state received injections of the medication.

A steroid back injection at Premier Orthopedic Surgical Associates in Vineland on Sept. 26 is believed to be the source of the Vineland patient’s illness, state Department of Health spokeswoman Donna Leusner said. The injection was given before New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., notified Premier about a recall of the medication, she said.

State officials are not identifying the patient, but said he  went to a hospital emergency room after developing headaches and a fever, which are fungal meningitis symptoms. Leusner said the man checked into the Vineland hospital “over the weekend.”

Premier officials were not available for comment.

State Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd said physicians need to “closely monitor patients who were administered steroid injections” from three lots of the medication recalled by New England Compounding Center.

South Jersey Healthcare System spokesman Greg Potter said about 102 patients who received the spinal injections, including some from Premier, were tested for the disease from late last week through Monday. He said not all the test results are complete.

Premier and South Jersey Healthcare Systems officials said Friday that about 180 patients received the steroid back injections from July 30 through Sept. 25. The injections are used for pain control, they said.

About 106 patients were administered injections, according to Premier. Seventy patients received the injections at South Jersey Healthcare System hospitals in Vineland and Elmer, according the company. The injections given to 33 patients at the Elmer facility came from a batch of the medication not currently linked to any fungal meningitis problems, they said.

In all, South Jersey Healthcare System and Premier gave out about 300 injections of the medication. The remainder of the shots did not involved spinal injections, which are the only ones so far linked to the fungal meningitis.

Meningitis is an inflamation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord caused by bacterial, viral or fungal infections. Symptoms include headaches, fever, nausea, neck stiffness, confusion and dizziness, state health officials said. The symptoms can appear between one and four weeks after receiving the injection.

Health officials are urging anyone who had a steroid injection and is experiencing any of those symptoms to seek immediate medical attention.

New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone and two fellow Democrats, Rep. Henry Waxman from California and Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, are calling for an investigation into the meningitis outbreak.

According to the CDC, this form of fungal meningitis is not contagious.

Contact Thomas Barlas:

609-226-9197