A Lowcountry clinic is one of dozens nationwide that are linked to a rare, but deadly, meningitis outbreak.
Federal health officials say there are 47 cases in seven states of people sickened by the disease. Five deaths have been reported as of Friday. The outbreak of fungal meningitis has been tied to contaminated steroid shots from a New England pharmacy used to treat back pain. South Carolina is one of 23 states where the steroids were shipped.
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control says one clinic received the drugs in our state. DHEC officials would not name the clinic, but the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified it as Intervene MD, which has offices in Mount Pleasant and North Charleston.
““I can tell you that we have identified a total of 189 patients who could have been exposed,” DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley told Columbia radio station WVOC. “Out of those 189, we have already contacted 177. And at this time, no additional medical follow-up is necessary.”
On Oct. 1, the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. voluntarily shut down its manufacturing center. That came a week after a Tennessee patient had developed infections when he received methylprednisolone acetate steroid injections for back pain. Fungal meningitis is a non-contagious form of the disease, which is different than the more common bacterial and viral types. It is often caused by a fungus typically found in leaf mold.
Health officials are urging patients who have had spinal injections of steroids recently to be alert for headaches; nausea; stiff neck; stroke-like symptoms, such as difficulty speaking; numbness or weakness. DHEC is warning patients to be cautious.
“Now, if you’ve had such an injection and you have not been contacted by your doctor, the facility where you received that injection, or by (DHEC), then you’re not part of the group that’s been identified as being at risk as we know at this time.”
David Waterman of Columbia affiliate WVOC contributed to this report.