The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

October 30, 2012

Minnesota records 10th meningitis case

— Minnesota on Tuesday confirmed its 10th case of fungal meningitis in a national outbreak tied to a tainted steroid from a Massachusetts pharmacy.

The patient is a Twin Cities area woman in her 60s, said Richard Danila, the assistant state epidemiologist. She is not hospitalized but is being treated, Danila said.

The woman received a spinal injection from one of the tainted batches of the steroid at Medical Advanced Pain Specialists, he said. Medical Advanced Pain Specialists is one of two chains of Minnesota clinics that received contaminated steroids from the New England Compounding Center. The department says around 985 MAPS and Minnesota Surgery Center patients received the injections.

Nationally, the tainted steroids have been linked to 363 illnesses and 28 deaths in 19 states.

Danila said there's "a good chance" Minnesota will see more cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the longest incubation time for a patient from this outbreak has been 66 days, but the risk is thought to drop after 42 days, he said. Given that MAPS was still injecting patients until about 35 days ago, it will take some time for the risk of new infections to drop off.

Some 111 Minnesota clinics have received various drugs from the NECC. Minnesota has had no confirmed cases of illnesses from other NECC drugs, but Danila said officials are "waiting for the other shoe to drop." One Minnesotan who received one of the other drugs has tested negative but that case remains suspicious, he said. A negative test doesn't necessarily mean a patient isn't infected, and given the extent of the contamination inspectors found at NECC, it seems unlikely that only one of its products was tainted, Danila said.

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