(October 6, 2012)--Two Texas health facilities received a painkiller linked to a rare fungal meningitis outbreak, including a suburban Fort Worth hospital that administered it to more than 100 patients.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the steroid linked to the outbreak was administered to 114 patients at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southlake to treat back pain and to an unknown number of patients at Dallas Back Pain Management.
Tarrant County Public Health officials say no patients have been diagnosed with the meningitis, but Harris Methodist President Traci Bernard said the patients have been advised to watch for nausea, light sensitivity and altered mental state, symptoms of this illness, an inflammation of the membranes of the brain.
The outbreak has killed at least five and sickened 35 elsewhere.
“Interim data show that all infected patients received injection with preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (80mg/ml) prepared by New England Compounding Center, located in Framingham, Mass.,” the CDC said in a health advisory.
The product was shipped to nearly two-dozen states.
Scott & White Healthcare didn’t receive any of the batches of the steroid linked to the outbreak, but said in a statement that as a precaution all medication from the manufacturer has been removed and replaced at Scott & White facilities.
“At this time, we believe Scott & White patients are at low risk for meningitis related to spinal epidural injections,” the statement said.
Methylprednisolone acetate is routinely used for epidural and joint steroid injection at Scott & White anesthesia pain clinics in Temple, Killeen, Waco, and at the interventional radiology department at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Scott & White said.
“As a precaution Scott & White patients who received an epidural spinal injection of a steroid medication at these locations between June 29 and October 3 of this year should be on the alert for signs of meningitis,” Scott & White said.
The symptoms include new headache, stiff neck, fatigue, blurred vision, and fever.
Scott & White advised patients who develop those symptoms and suspect they could be at risk to contact their primary care physicians immediately.