2 Michigan deaths linked to meningitis outbreak - WNEM TV 5

2 Michigan deaths linked to meningitis outbreak

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Michigan is one of the nine states that's being affected by a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak that's infecting a growing number of people.

"We are definitely concerned but at the same time we did anticipate that the numbers would climb," said Angela Minicuci, spokeswoman with the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Cases are climbing rapidly. The MDCH is now confirming 20 reported cases in the state. Tragically, that number includes two deaths, "which is a large jump up from the number of cases that we confirmed on Friday which was just six cases," Minicuci added.

The outbreak has been linked to a steroid produced by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. It's an injection into the spine used to treat back pain. Four facilities in Michigan received the medication, including the Michigan Neurosurgical Institute in Grand Blanc. Minicuci says the tainted steroids were administered between July and the beginning of this month.

"And so that was a very wide amount of time for people to be exposed, number one, and number two, this is a very common procedure for anyone with typical back pain to go get a epidural injection," she explained.

Minicuci says anyone who fears they may have been infected should be on the lookout for any of the following symptoms: very severe headache, fever, paralysis, numbness and any symptoms consistent with a stroke.

"Typically, these cases tend to develop one to four weeks after exposure," Minicuci said.

The Michigan Neurosurgical Institute in Grand Blanc said in a statement last Friday no patients there have been affected by the steroid. Nevertheless, they say they are helping the state with its investigation.

"We've been working on it all weekend to reach out to patients and at this point that's how we've been able to confirm more cases," Minicuci added.

Copyright 2012 by WNEM (Meredith Corporation) and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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