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Fungal Meningitis Risk Greatest After First 6 Weeks Of Shots

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10/24/2012 07:45 PM
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Fungal Meningitis Risk Greatest After First 6 Weeks Of Shots
Not sure how I would feel about awaiting a sickness like this, but it is good to know they have learned the cause which can help treatment

"Federal health officials had good news Wednesday for some of the people injected with fungus-contaminated steroids: They don’t have an open-ended wait to find out if they are infected.

The greatest risk for fungal meningitis comes in the first six weeks -- 42 days -- after injection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. After that, doctors and patients still need to watch but they may not need to worry quite as much, the CDC said in updated guidance.

"This is the light at the end of the tunnel," Dr. John Dreyzehner, the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health, said at a press conference Wednesday about the new guidelines. "By Nov. 8, patients exposed in Tennessee will have passed the 42-day mark."
In Tennessee, 70 patients have been sickened and nine died -- the most in the nation -- after receiving tainted steroid injections.

The outbreak of fungal disease has made 308 people sick in 17 states so far, and 23 of them have died, the CDC says. The New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., the pharmacy that distributed the contaminated steroids, has been closed and its license has been permanently revoked. State officials say they have found dirty conditions there. State officials say they have found dirty conditions there.

As many as 14,000 people may have received injections from three batches of steroid from the plant, the CDC says. Those not already sick are waiting and worrying that every headache might mean they have meningitis, an inflammation of the protective membranes of the brain and spinal cord.

The contaminated steroids were shipped to 76 pain clinics nationwide. CDC officials said the potentially tainted shots were first given May 21.CDC notes that it has been at least 26 days since anyone got a contaminated injection. People have an 8 percent risk of infection at that point and the risk goes down to just over 1 percent after 42 days. Most of the people who have died from the fungal infections suffered strokes, and most got sick quickly after being injected.

“The majority of these patients will have risks of stroke or death that are much lower than the estimates noted here, and their risk will continue to decrease as more time elapses since their last injection.”

The lots of tainted drugs were recalled on Sept. 26, so patients should be in the clear by Election Day, Nov. 6, according to the CDC's math.

CDC says 47 patients have laboratory-confirmed fungal meningitis. “This form of fungal meningitis is not contagious,” the agency says. All have Exserohilum except for one who had an infection with Aspergillus, another mold, and one with a fungus called Cladosporium.

“These fungi are common in the environment but rarely cause meningitis,” CDC says.

[link to vitals.nbcnews.com]
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