Meningitis Outbreak: Ten Deaths in Tennessee

The fungal meningitis outbreak that is wreaking havoc in this country, according to an update released by the Tennessee Department of Health today, has sickened 74 people in Tennessee, killing ten of them. According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 338 fungal meningitis infections reported nationwide with 25 deaths. The CDC reports that Michigan residents have contracted the most fungal infections – 82 – followed by Tennessee, from the tainted steroid injections from the New England Compounding Center.

The fungus that is causing the meningitis has never before been found to cause meningitis and is extremely difficult not only to diagnose, but to kill, as well, requiring at least three months of treatments. A CDC official stated that this is “new territory for us,” and “that there was no precedent for this kind of thing.”

By meticulous detailing results in medical journals and by grim autopsy findings, doctors are finding that early treatment is crucial in defeating this fungus. Dr. Carol Kauffman of the University of Michigan said that those people receiving treatment earlier “seemed to be doing OK,” with fewer of the strokes that characterized the outbreak’s beginning. The CDC has stated that doctors have two valid options in dealing with the infection: To watch patients closely for symptoms or to consider a just-in-case spinal tap, which can be repeated weekly, for those at-risk people still inside the 42-day window.

The main culprit in the outbreak is a black mold that is common in soil and grasses. Scientists believe the mold sneaks into the spinal cord and brain of a healthy person by growing quietly until enough accumulates for it to burrow a tiny hole into the lining of the spinal canal. Once it reaches the spinal fluid, it has a direct route to the brain. The one good news in this dire situation is that the mold is treatable with a drug named voriconazole, a drug that has fewer side effects than the treatment that was used at the beginning of the outbreak. Nevertheless, doctors are cautioned to carefully monitor patients as differences in body metabolism can make levels of the drug to surge in the bloodstream, causing confusion, nausea, hallucinations and even liver damage in some cases.

Victims of the epidural steroid fungal meningitis outbreak may be entitled to receive compensation for not only medical expenses, but for lost wages, and pain and suffering, as well. If you or a loved one is a victim of this outbreak, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to understand the options you have for pursuing justice for your injuries and losses.

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