Tue October 9, 2012
N.C. Health Officials Warn Everyone Exposed To Meningitis Outbreak
While only two cases of meningitis in North Carolina have been tied to the national outbreak, local health officials are taking extra precautions. They’ve even made house calls to track down everyone who might be infected, so basically anyone in North Carolina who could be part of the outbreak should already know it.
"All 93 of the patients from the clinic in High Point and the clinic in Wilson have been contacted," said Julie Henry, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Services.
She said High Point and Wilson are the only places where patients received spinal injections of the tainted steroid. It’s commonly used to treat back pain, and it came from a New England pharmacy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control as of Tuesday, it’s connected to 119 cases of meningitis and 11 deaths nationwide. (The CDC updates its numbers daily.)
While Henry said there are still only two cases in North Carolina, some people who received the injections are not in the clear yet.
"The incubation period could be anywhere between one and four weeks, so we’re not out of the woods yet," she said. "But we have made contact with those individuals. They know what to be looking for."
Dr. Zach Moore of the N.C. Division of Public Health said the symptoms can seem minor at first - headaches, fever, neck stiffness and sensitivity to light. But meningitis can lead to strokes and even death if untreated.
"We want people to be vigilant about symptoms even if they don’t necessarily seem severe to them because some of the cases that we’ve seen have started out with pretty minimal symptoms," Dr. Moore said.
The state health department also said more than 200 people in Durham received injections of the tainted steroid in their joints. They too have been contacted as a precaution, although only spinal injections have been tied to the meningitis outbreak.