Victim of nationwide meningitis outbreak being treated in Duluth, family member saysOne of the four Minnesota women with fungal meningitis linked to tainted steroid injections is being treated at Essentia Health St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, the woman’s mother said on Saturday.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
One of the four Minnesota women with fungal meningitis linked to tainted steroid injections is being treated at Essentia Health St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, the woman’s mother said on Saturday.
Susan Edwards, 46, of Hibbing was taken by ambulance from Hibbing to St. Mary’s on Oct. 5 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed from a urine sample that she had the disease, said her mother, Mary Olson of Cloquet.
Susan Edwards was listed in fair condition on Saturday, Essentia Health spokeswoman Kim Kaiser said. She couldn’t confirm that Edwards was being treated for fungal meningitis. Douglas Schultz, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health, said that four cases have been confirmed in Minnesota and that two of the victims are hospitalized. He could not say where the victims were being treated.
Fungal meningitis is a rare infection usually spread through blood to the spinal cord, according to the website of the CDC in Atlanta. It is not contagious. Symptoms can include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light and altered mental status. It is treated with high doses of antifungal medications, usually given through IV lines in the hospital.
As of Saturday, 197 cases of the disease had been confirmed in 12 states, according to the CDC, and 15 people have died. The outbreak has been linked to steroid injections often given for chronic back pain that were prepared by a suburban Boston compounding pharmacy. In Minnesota, the injections were given only at two clinics with locations in the Twin Cities area, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
Olson said her daughter received injections at two locations of one of those clinics — Medical Advanced Pain Specialists, on July 3 and July 17 in Maple Grove and Shakopee. Edwards has suffered from chronic back pain for 10 years after being injured in a work accident, her mother said. She received four shots on the 3rd and eight shots on the 17th.
Edwards became ill during the first week in August with a severe headache. She went to the emergency room at Fairview University Medical Center in Hibbing, but it was thought that the headache was related to her continuing back pain, Olson said.
The symptoms persisted, and Edwards went back to the hospital on
Oct. 2. The CDC asked for a urine sample and diagnosed fungal meningitis
either the next day or the day after, Olson said.
Olson, who was speaking from the hospital, said she has been told her daughter will be hospitalized for at least another week.
“She can’t go home,” Olson said. “She has tremors. She is very confused. It’s like she’s with us, and then she zones out. They’ve asked the family to have someone here all night and day with her.”
The fungus also is affecting her daughter’s kidneys, Olson said.
Edwards is single and has three grown children, Olson said.
A Minnesota woman filed a lawsuit on Thursday against New England Compounding Center over the suspect injections. Olson said she already had talked to a lawyer and plans to eventually take legal action.
The CDC reported that none of the contaminated steroid was distributed in Wisconsin, and there have been no cases of fungal meningitis in that state.