Fungal Meningitis Found In Michigan

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The state health department is confirming six cases in Michigan-- which is among 49 cases in seven states. Five people have died.

Calls are pouring in by the dozens at The Spine Center in East Lansing. Patients are concerned about a fungal meningitis outbreak hitting several states including Michigan.

"Today alone, probably at least 20 phone calls from patients who are concerned, some of them very concerned want to cancel their procedure when they really don't have a reason to cancel," said Shelly Hickey, the Clinical Manager at The Spine Center.

People who have been treated for lower back pain at The Spine Center and other locations have no reason to be concerned. The Michigan Department of Community Health says there are only four facilities in the entire state where the medication under investigation was used. Those locations are:
Brighton - Michigan Pain Specialists
Grand Blanc - Michigan Neurological Institute
Traverse City - Neuromuscular & Rehabilitation
Warren - South East Michigan Surgical Hospital

If you received a injection for back pain between July and October 2012 at one of the four facilities listed above you should contact your doctor.

These facilities have stopped using the medications, so no future patients are at risk, but those who received the treatments might be infected. Symptoms of this form of meningitis show up 1-4 weeks after the infection. They include stiff neck, bad headache, fevers, chills, sensitivity to light, vomiting, and any kind of neurological changes, such as mental status changes.

"One of the things to keep in mind with meningitis is that it can be fatal, and we do want to make sure that anyone who's experiencing these symptoms address this now before it becomes worse," said Angela Minicuci, a spokesperson for the Michigan Dept. of Community Health.

Since this is a fungal meningitis, and not a bacteria or viral it is not contagious. Meningitis affects the brain and neurological function and can lead to a comma or and even death.

"Anybody who's had a spinal injection within the last several months should certainly inquire with there doctor and the clinic where they get their injections," said Dr. Ryan Topham who works at The Spine Center.

The Center for Disease Control said five people have died from fungal meningitis across the country. None of those deaths are in Michigan. If you've gotten a steroid shot for back pain in the last three months, its a good idea to get tested. The test doctors give to verify if someone has meningitis is called a lumbar puncture.

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