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Hospital Faces Uncertainty as It Copes With Surge of Patients With Fungal Meningitis

Bridget M. Kuehn, MSJ
JAMA. 2013;309(3):219-221. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.187705.
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In the first week after news broke in early October that contaminated steroid injections from a New England compounding pharmacy were the likely cause of a multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis, dozens of patients who had been exposed to potentially contaminated injections at a private pain management practice began presenting each day in the emergency department of a nearby hospital, St Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital in Ypsilanti, Mich.

“In that first week, there was a day our emergency department did more than 60 spinal taps,” said Anurag Malani, MD, an infectious disease specialist at the hospital. “We had this massive influx of [exposed] patients, probably a couple hundred that first week.”

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More than 590 cases of fungal meningitis in 19 states, including 37 deaths, have been traced back to contaminated steroid injections.

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Physicians and public health authorities are grappling with how to treat fungal meningitis and spinal infections caused by injections of steroid medications contaminated with the fungus Exserohilum rostratum.

(Photo credit: CDC)



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