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Meningitis Outbreak Grows, SD Not Affected

October 10, 2012, 5:44 AM by Kellee Azar
Updated: October 10, 2012, 7:11 AM

Meningitis Outbreak Grows, SD Not Affected

A strand of fungal meningitis has proven to be a deadly one.

With a death toll of 12 as of Wednesday morning, the non-contagious disease has reached ten states across the U.S. including Minnesota. Neither South Dakota nor Iowa are affected.

In Minnesota alone, where three people are infected, the Department of Health says the steroid shot linked to the illness has been given to more than 850 people. That leaves many wondering who this affects and how to recognize it?

"Whenever you invoke the term meningitis you always invoke a lot of fear. Most of the fear surrounding meningitis though is more contagious fear, rather than fear of an actual risk.  So in this case, this is not contagious," Dr. Wendell Hoffman a Sanford Infectious Disease Physician said.

The only people who are at risk for this form of fungal meningitis are those who were given the steroid shot in question. Because of the number of people this shot has been linked to in Minnesota, the Department of Health is taking action.

"The Minnesota Department of Health is tracking down all of those patients in the several locations in the Twin Cities that received or possibly received the spinal injections," Hoffman said.

Minnesota health officials say they've contacted all those who received the injection. Now with the 12 deaths across the country, physicians are warning people to not take any chances.

"I think if someone gets the kind of symptoms we are talking about here they need to consult their physician promptly particularly if there is a rapid progression of these symptoms. That would be concerning and in fact be an emergency," Hoffman said.

The specialty pharmacy out of Massachusetts has now taken its recall a step further as a precaution.

"The company has pulled all of its products, everyone of them, from what I understand and recalled everything just within the last several days," Hoffman said. 

The thing that makes this form of meningitis different from the rest is the time it takes to affect your body. Fungal meningitis takes up to four weeks to show symptoms where as the other forms can take days or even just hours.

They are similar to that of the flu including a fever over 100 degrees.  Those affected may also have mood changes or even personality changes.

Patients will also have a headache, which doctors say you would consider it to be one of the worst you've ever had.

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