Michael Omidi - Meningitis Outbreak News

Omidihealth was created by Michael Omidi - co-founder of NMP (No More Poverty) this blog is dedicated to providing its readers the latest news on the meningitis outbreak.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dr. Michael Omidi on New Meningitis Related Illnesses

Cases of Infection on Rise in Tennessee and Michigan

Cases of infections resulting from the tainted steroids from the New England Compounding Center appear to be on the rise, according to health officials in Tennessee and Michigan.

The new infections aren’t fungal meningitis, but epidural abscesses—collections of pus on the bones of the scull or the spine that can lead to fungal meningitis if left untreated. There have been 37 new cases of abscesses in Michigan and 23 in Tennessee.

Although health officials stress that these abscesses aren’t life threatening, they can potentially cause serious problems, like chronic back pain, incontinence, an abscess on the spinal cord itself and bone infections.

Fortunately, because the Tennessee and Michigan patients who have received the epidural injections of contaminated steroid were under more or less constant medical supervision, these abscesses were detected early, so the prognosis is generally positive. However, epidural abscesses are difficult to detect with the naked eye at the early stages. Symptoms of spinal epidural abscesses are bladder and bowel incontinence, back pain, fever, weakness and difficulty moving a particular part of the body (depending upon where the abscess is located.)

Majority of Cases Detected Early

The cases of potential complications and infections are more difficult to predict in other regions of the United States, however, because it is widely believed that the number of patients who have been exposed to the potentially deadly fungal infection is greater that what is being counted. Certain patients in California who had received epidural steroid injections from NECC were notified that they could potentially be infected with fungal meningitis, but there hasn’t been any follow up. People who have not experienced symptoms of fungal meningitis were not as closely monitored as those who have, and might therefore be at risk of developing complications from epidural abscesses.

Medical Community and CDC not Counting Many Cases

Patients from several states, including California, which did not report any fungal meningitis infections, are claiming that the medical community and the Center for Disease Control are not counting them as official cases. The National Research Center for Women and Families believes that there are many more cases of infection stemming from the tainted drugs, but they are, for whatever reason, going undocumented.

New Infections not Classified as Medical Emergency

The new infections appear to be outside of the central nervous system, and aren’t classified as a medical emergency the way fungal meningitis is. What is worrying to most health officials is the fact that fungal meningitis could develop from the abscesses. According to the Tennessee health department commissioner John Dreyzehner, “We indeed could have a second wave of meningitis for some people. The medical community can't tell you with precision when the risk ends.”

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