"There were contaminated lots of steroid injections that came from a compounding center up in New England," says Jessica Woods, interim regional epidemiologist for the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department.
This situation started months ago when the people who received the injections were infected.
"Two of the cases in West Virginia are actual fungal meningitis, whereas five are just infections around the site of injection, which did not progress into meningitis," Woods says.
The type of infections found in West Virginia are slower moving and cases are only now emerging where health officials didn't know they existed.
"There was one facility in West Virginia that did receive these contaminated injections and they were given to people and those people are eventually experiencing the symptoms that they have now," Woods says.
Pars Interventional Pain and Wellness Center in Parkersburg is the only location in the Mountain State to receive that steroid.
There is treatment, in the form of anti-fungals. The affected patients are expected to fully recover.
"They're still not sure about how effective those are but the people, anybody who has experienced these symptoms, are able to get that treatment," Woods says.
The outbreak was detected in September 2012 and the company went bankrupt just three months later.
"They're under criminal investigation because of the monies that were transferred to some personal accounts," Woods says.
Pharmaceutical companies are monitored and should be inspected so these types of contaminations don't happen. Infection is rare.
"Fungal infections that are spreading around the community because of these injections are not contagious; they cannot be spread from person to person," Woods says. "Standard precautions are being taken in all areas, both in medical facilities and in the pharmaceutical manufacturing companies. So I would say there's nothing to be particularly worried about in our area."
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