Meningitis relapse reported, one year after outbreak

An unidentified victim of the fungal meningitis outbreak has suffered a reoccurrence a full year after the outbreak, prompting an immediate effort by a Nashville hospital to contact other known victims to detect other possible relapses.

The reoccurrence was acknowledged late Friday by Rebecca Climer, spokeswoman for Saint Thomas Health, who said the hospital is in the process of contacting the original victims to ask about their current status.

"The patient was admitted to Saint Thomas West Hospital on Oct. 3 and is now receiving appropriate treatment at the hospital," Climer said in a statement.

She said the patient had contracted fungal meningitis in the original outbreak linked to receiving a contaminated steroid injection.

The statement came following an inquiry by The Tennessean after it received a call from one of the original patients who had been called by the hospital.

"As a precautionary measure," Climer wrote in the statement, "Saint Thomas West Hospital staff is currently contacting former patients previously diagnosed with fungal meningitis to inquire about their health status and urge them to be alert to the following possible symptoms."

She said the symptoms include persistent and severe headache, worsening back pain and unexplained fever.

Climer said that for those suffering the symptoms of a relapse, "Saint Thomas West Hospital will provide appropriate medical services, as needed."

The disclosure comes just a year after the outbreak became public. Sixteen patients treated in Tennessee died, and 153 were sickened. Nationally, 64 patients died while 750 were sickened.

The outbreak has been blamed on a now-closed Massachusetts drug compounding firm that sent out thousands of vials of fungus-tainted methylprednisolone acetate.

Attorneys representing clients who have filed suit over the outbreak reported that their clients had been contacted and some were asked to come in for a checkup.

Randy Kinnard, who represents several victims, said one client called to report being asked to come in for a checkup.


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