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Oklahoma hasn't seen any cases in fungal meningitis outbreak

Federal officials said Thursday that 35 people in six states have been sickened from a steroid that was distributed to 23 states. Oklahoma was not one of those states.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: October 4, 2012 at 10:26 pm •  Published: October 5, 2012

As news continues to spread about an outbreak of a rare form of meningitis, state officials said Thursday that Oklahoma has not seen any cases of fungal meningitis associated with the outbreak.

State Health Department officials said they are not investigating any fungal meningitis cases related to the outbreak. In all, 35 people in six states have been sickened from a steroid that was distributed to 23 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

The steroid injections, methylprednisolone acetate, which are used mostly for back pain, have been traced back to a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. The pharmacy issued a recall last week and has shut down operations.

The federal Food and Drug Administration identified the maker of the steroid as New England Compounding Center, a specialty pharmacy in Framingham, Mass. Last week, the company issued a recall for three lots of the steroid, and in a statement the company said it had voluntarily suspended operations and was working with regulators to identify the source of the infection.

States where the recalled lots were shipped are California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas and West Virginia.

Tennessee hit hard

Tennessee has by far the most cases, with 25. Many of them were treated at the St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center in Nashville, which had 2,000 vials of the suspect lots, the largest number. That clinic voluntarily closed last month to deal with the investigation.

The New England Compounding Center has an active nonresident pharmacy license in Oklahoma through the state pharmacy board.

This means there could be products from the compounding center in Oklahoma. However, it's not known whether products, other than the recalled steroid lots, are contaminated.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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At a glance

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include severe and worsening headache, nausea, dizziness and fever. Some of the patients who received the steroid from the New England Compounding Center experienced slurred speech and difficulty walking and urinating.


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