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Michigan Meningitis Investigation Includes Growing Number of Epidural Abscess Cases

MDCH, LARA, and St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Respond Quickly to Growing Need

Contact: Angela Minicuci (517) 373-0860

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 16, 2012

LANSING - As of Wednesday, Nov. 14, Michigan's case count related to the ongoing multistate fungal meningitis investigation includes more epidural abscess cases than meningitis cases. As of Nov. 16, the current case count for Michigan is 158 including 64 meningitis cases and 86 cases of epidural abscess, in addition to seven joint infections and one stroke.

Due to the evolving nature of the investigation, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) worked quickly during the week of Nov. 12 to grant emergency Certificates of Need (CONs) for Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor continues to evaluate and treat more patients related to this investigation than any facility nationally.

MDCH expedited the review of a CON to expand the operating rooms (OR) capacity, as well as granted an emergency CON to employ the use of a mobile MRI service at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. MRI scans and ORs are necessary to detect and treat the growing number of cases, especially those presenting with an epidural abscess. MDCH worked with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to quickly grant these two CONs.

"We at MDCH recognize the critical importance that testing and treatment capacity plays in protecting the patients involved in this investigation," said James K. Haveman, Director of the MDCH. "Thanks to the responsiveness and cooperation of our partners at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and LARA, we are working swiftly to detect and treat as many cases as we can, as soon as possible."

For patients who have contracted meningitis through the contaminated steroid injections prepared by the New England Compounding Center (NECC), located in Framingham, Mass., symptoms include fever, new or worsening headache, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, and/or a new neurological deficit such as weakness or numbness, consistent with deep brain stroke. Symptoms of an epidural abscess, an infection at the epidural injection site, may also include new or worsening pain.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in this outbreak, symptoms typically have appeared one to four weeks following injection, but longer, and shorter periods between injection and onset of symptoms have been reported. Therefore, patients and physicians need to closely watch for symptoms for at least several months following the injection.

"MDCH staff will continue to work closely with the facilities involved in the investigation, including St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, to ensure that patient safety and their overall health and wellness remains the primary focus of our efforts," said Haveman.

In the beginning of October, MDCH was made aware of four facilities in Michigan that received contaminated steroid injections from NECC. The product was recalled and patients who received the injection were notified. Any individual who received a steroid injection at one of the four Michigan facilities and is experiencing the symptoms described above should immediately contact their physician or seek medical attention.

MDCH will continue to update the state's case count online at http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,4612,7-132-2945_5104_8513-287628--,00.html.

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