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A closeup view through the lens of a microscope and magnified on the computer screen of the meningitis causing fungus Exserohilum rostratum at the Mycotic lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pouya Dianat, Associated Press

Minnesota links 10th meningitis case

  • October 30, 2012 - 8:55 PM

Minnesota has confirmed its 10th case of fungal meningitis in a national outbreak linked to a tainted steroid from a Massachusetts pharmacy.

The patient is a Twin Cities-area woman in her 60s, state officials said Tuesday. She did not require hospitalization but is being treated for the infection.

The woman received a spinal injection from one of the tainted batches of the steroid at Medical Advanced Pain Specialists (MAPS), according to Richard Danila, Minnesota's assistant state epidemiologist. MAPS is one of two Minnesota clinic groups that received contaminated steroids from the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.

The state Health Department says about 985 Minnesota patients of MAPS and Minnesota Surgery Center received the injections.

The Massachusetts firm recalled the steroids last month and federal health authorities have alerted clinics nationwide to stop using them.

So far, at least two of the Minnesota patients were hospitalized for treatment, but both have shown signs of recovery. State health officials have not released additional details on the others.

Scores of Minnesota patients have been tested for the fungal infection and although only 10 have been confirmed as positive, many more have reported related symptoms, including headaches and neck pain.

Danila said there's "a good chance" Minnesota will see more cases, although the national outbreak has shown signs of winding down. The two Minnesota clinics stopped using the tainted steroid about 35 days ago, but with an incubation period ranging from 42 to 66 days, it's possible that additional cases will still turn up, he said.

More than 100 Minnesota clinics bought various drugs from the New England Compounding Center, which has ceased operations and is under federal investigation. Minnesota has had no confirmed cases of illnesses from other drugs from the firm, but Danila said officials are "waiting for the other shoe to drop."

Also on Tuesday, federal officials raised the outbreak's national count to 356 cases of fungal meningitis and seven cases of related joint infections in 19 states. There have been 28 deaths.

Tennessee, where the outbreak was first reported, has 74 cases, but has been overtaken by Michigan, which now has 93 confirmed cases.

STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

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