Tainted steroids with fungal meningitis shipped to Ga. and SC - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Tainted steroids shipped to Ga. and SC

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

A Macon, Ga. surgery center is pulling all their vials of steroids off the shelves. According to the Georgia Department of Health, the facility received a shipment of steroids that is possibly contaminated with fungal meningitis.

The Department of Health also said, as of Friday evening, the Macon clinic is the only place in Georgia that received the tainted shipment. The vials are being traced back to a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts.

WTOC spoke with two different pain management clinics, plus Memorial Medical Center, who all say they don't carry the steroids being recalled.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of Friday evening, 47 people have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis and five people have died. The CDC says doctor's offices and pain management clinics in at least 23 states, including Georgia and South Carolina, may have received the tainted steroids.

According to the CDC, the steroids, which are primarily used for neck and back pain, are injected directly into the spine. That's why the fungal meningitis has turned deadly.

WTOC spoke with Dr. Diane Weems, Chief Medical Officer for the Coastal Health District. She said fungal meningitis is very rare and is not contagious.

Dr. Weems said the disease usually only shows up in folks whose immune systems are already compromised by another illness. She said people are exposed to fungal meningitis almost every day.

"The contaminate is a spore of a mold called aspergillosis. It's a very common mold," Dr. Weems explained. "It lives around us in the air. It's a leaf mold. You and I could breathe it in, and it would typically be filtered by our lungs and not cause any problem at all."

Dr. Weems also said unlike other forms of meningitis, the symptoms of fungal meningitis are more subtle and can take up to a month to show up.

Some of those symptoms include an increase in headaches, nausea, stiff neck, and stroke like symptoms, primarily weakness and numbness through out the body.

Right now, none of the tainted shipments of steroids have shown up in the Coastal Empire. Folks should contact their doctor right away with any questions.

For more on the outbreak, click here.

Copyright 2012 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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