A fourth person in Minnesota has fungal meningitis, the state Health Department announced Saturday. She is a woman in her 70s, in a hospital and receiving treatment, according to Doug Schultz, MDH spokesperson, who said the MDH isn't releasing more information about her.
The infection manifests itself with fever, stiff neck, headache, nausea and vomiting, mental disorientation and photophobia (increased sensitivity to light)—symptoms that are typical of many conditions and illnesses, which makes diagnosis a challenge.
"Every case is different," Schultz said. "Many tend to be fairly complicated," he added, because the four were being treated for pain for other medical reasons besides fungal meningitis infection, which he called "so rare."
The first three cases in Minnesota were all women in their 40s.
An outbreak tied to tainted steroid injections in 12 states has killed 15 people and infected nearly 200 others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The latest fatality was in Indiana, NPR reported.
No one in Minnesota has died. Two of the infected patients were doing well enough to leave the hospital on Oct. 11.
It's the first new case in Minnesota in a week. The Minnesota Department of Health and two providers with clinics in Fridley, Shakopee, Maple Grove and Edina have tried to alert all 831 people in the state who they say got the tainted steroid treatment.
The MDH had succeeded in contacting "all but perhaps a handful," Schultz said.
What may be the first lawsuit in the United States in relation to the outbreak was filed Oct. 11 by resident of Savage, MN who underwent a spinal tap to test for the infection after she received word she heard she'd had the implicated steroids.
Her suit names the New England Compounding Center, a Massachusetts pharmacy that made the steroids blamed in the outbreak. For more on NECC, visit Framingham Patch. No one from the Minneapolis law firm representing the Savage woman returned messages about her case on Friday.
These are the two providers in Minnesota that provided the tainted steroids and the locations of their six clinics, according to the Minnesota Department of Health:
- Medical Advanced Pain Specialists (MAPS) in Edina, Fridley, Shakopee and Maple Grove
- Minnesota Surgery Center (MSC) in Edina and Maple Grove
"We continue to evaluate cases," Schultz of the MDH told the Star Tribune Saturday, "so we wouldn't be surprised to hear about more cases in the coming weeks."