In light of the recent news that a number of fungal meningitis cases and associated deaths have been caused by contaminated medications, the Ross County Health District is working to alert physicians and the public.
"This form of meningitis is not, I repeat not, communicable from person-to-person," said Kathy Wakefield, director of public health nursing at the health district. "However, it is dangerous and we’re trying to make sure that people know the facts and what to do if they were treated with the contaminated medication."
The Health District reports that the medication is an 80 mg/ml injection of a steroid, preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate, which was prepared by the New England Compounding Center in Farmingham, Mass.
Locally, a spokesperson with Adena Regional Medical Center said that the hospital does not do business with the New England Compounding Center and hasn’t received any of the contaminated medication. They are advising their patients that there is no reason to worry and have also posted a public statement on the hospital website.
Four pain centers in Ohio are known to have received the contaminated product: Ortho-Spine Rehab Center in Dublin; Cincinnati Pain Management in Cincinnati; and two centers in Marion: BKC Pain Specialists and the Marion Pain Clinic.
Wakefield said local residents who may have been treated with a steroid injection at these centers, or even by another physician or health center, should contact the facility where they received the treatment.
However, she said the CDC has specified that only those receiving treatment after May 21 may be affected.
As of Monday, 105 cases and eight deaths have been confirmed, with just one case in Ohio.
Symptoms of a fungal meningitis infection include: fever, a new or worsening headache, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, a new weakness or numbness, increasing pain, and redness or swelling at the injection site.
Rami Yoakum, public information officer for the health district, said they have posted the CDC Health Advisory on their website - www.rosscountyhealth.com - and are also providing updates via their Facebook page.
"We want to make sure people know what’s going on and whether or not they need to be worried," he said. "Plus, we want to again remind everyone that this form of meningitis is not contagious and can’t be spread from person-to-person."