US state's outbreak has likely peaked (Update)
In this May 15, 2012 file photo, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks in Bethesda, Md. Medicare, overseen by Sebelius' department, is coming under scrutiny in the meningitis outbreak that has rekindled doubts about the safety of the nation's drug supply. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
(AP)—Tennessee's chief medical officer says the rate of new infections from fungal meningitis appears to be declining in the state where it was first discovered.
"I think we're on the downhill part of the epidemic curve," Dr. David Reagan said in an interview on Thursday. Still, Reagan cautioned that he expects to see new infections in the state, and there likely will be more deaths.
Tennessee health officials were the first to identify and report the outbreak of the rare disease caused when patients seeking pain relief received contaminated steroid injections. With 63 cases, the state has about a quarter of the 257 patients who have been sickened nationally either with meningitis or, in a few cases, joint infections. Eight of the 20 patients who have died were in Tennessee.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Curtis Allen said it is too early to say whether the rate of new infections is decreasing nationally.
"This is still an ongoing investigation," he said. "There were about 14,000 people exposed."
Not everyone who received the contaminated medicine will get sick, Reagan said. The most important factor determining who does get sick seems to be how much fungus was contaminating the particular vial of medication they received, not their age or even how healthy they were.
"It's not predictable," Reagan said.
Tennessee's meningitis patients range in age from 23 to 91 years old. The majority of them are women, but Reagan said that is only because more of the patients receiving the contaminated injections were women.
Those patients who have been sickest are those who either did not catch the symptoms early or who didn't receive appropriate treatment early because doctors didn't know what they were dealing with. The fungi become harder to kill once they have established themselves in a person's body.
Most of the positively identified cases are caused by Exserohilum rostratum. The fungus is commonly found in the environment, but it has never before been observed as a cause of meningitis.
Because of that, Reagan said, officials have been unable to firmly establish the incubation period and give those who received the tainted injections a date for when they will no longer need to worry about developing meningitis.
"We're saying at least six weeks, or 42 days, but we probably will extend that," he said. "This is new territory. There's no literature to tell us how long."
That uncertainty is causing a lot of anxiety for people who received the tainted injections but haven't developed symptoms. And there's no test that can show someone is in the clear.
Doctors are diagnosing the fungal meningitis cases by collecting spinal fluid with a long needle, but "just because there's no evidence of infection today, that doesn't mean it won't show up tomorrow," Reagan said.
That's why Tennessee health officials are continuing intensive follow-up with the approximately 1,000 patients who received the injections here between June 27 and Sept. 28, when the suspect medication was pulled from clinics.
Reagan said officials are calling patients once a week to check in and calling twice a week if patients report any symptoms. That has included tracking down people who were vacationing out of state or even out of the country. For anyone who cannot communicate clearly by telephone, officials are making home visits.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
- Rare US fungal meningitis outbreak grows; 5 dead (Update) Oct 03, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Meningitis outbreak deaths rise to 19 Oct 17, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Rare US fungal meningitis outbreak grows; 5 dead (Update) Oct 04, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Steroid-related meningitis cases rise to 47 Oct 05, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Steroid-related meningitis cases rise to 105 Oct 08, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
A new case of the deadly coronavirus has been detected in Saudi Arabia where 15 people have already died after contracting it, the health ministry announced on Saturday on its Internet website.
Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes 1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
(HealthDay)—Few randomized clinical trials have been done to assess clinical prediction rules for patients with lower back pain, and the trials that have been done are of low quality and do not provide ...
Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes 22 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A new, highly sensitive blood test that quickly detects even the lowest levels of malaria parasites in the body could make a dramatic difference in efforts to tackle the disease in the UK and across the world, according to ...
Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—The World Health Organization says a yellow fever booster vaccination given 10 years after the initial shot isn't necessary.
Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
An increasing number of U.S. children are experiencing gastrointestinal issues that require interventions to resolve, according to research presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW).
3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
The latest makeover to a massive psychiatric tome honored by some, reviled by others and even called the "Bible" of mental disorders is being released Saturday with a host of new changes.
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
A ground-breaking advance in colonoscopy technology signals the future of colorectal care, according to research presented today at Digestive Disease Week(DDW). Additional research focuses on optimizing the minimal withdrawal ...
3 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
Big names in medicine are set to give an upbeat assessment of the war on AIDS on Tuesday, 30 years after French researchers identified the virus that causes the disease.
11 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
For combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, 'fear circuitry' in the brain never rests
Chronic trauma can inflict lasting damage to brain regions associated with fear and anxiety. Previous imaging studies of people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, have shown that these brain regions can over-or ...
12 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
The neural machinery underlying our olfactory sense continues to be an enigma for neuroscience. A recent review in Neuron seeks to expand traditional ideas about how neurons in the olfactory bulb might encode information about ...
23 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |