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Deadly Meningitis Outbreak Surrounds Georgia - What You Should Know

200 people have become sick and 15 people have died so far, but no cases have been reported in Georgia.

The Meningitis outbreak has now spread to 15 states, including three that border Georgia.  15 people have died from the disease that has been linked to drugs made by a Massachusetts pharmacy, the New England Compounding Center (NECC).

The CDC reports that no cases have been claimed in Georgia, but Florida has 10 cases and 2 deaths, N. Carolina has 2 cases and 0 deaths, and Tennessee has 53 cases and 6 deaths. 

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The current meningitis outbreak has been traced to a specific product and company.  According to the CDC, the people who should be most concerned are, "patients who have received a steroid injection of a potentially contaminated product into the spinal area. Several patients suffered strokes that are believed to have resulted from their infection." 

The contaminated product is being traced to drugs made by a Massachusetts pharmacy, the New England Compounding Center (NECC).  They make various injectible drugs that are under investigation.

According to a Reuters report, "Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, said on "CBS This Morning" that he expects a "steady increase" in the number of fungal meningitis infections over the coming weeks."

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include headache, fever and nausea. Fungal meningitis is not contagious.

The investigation also includes fungal infections associated with injections in a peripheral joint space, such as a knee, shoulder or ankle. CDC and public health officials are referring any patients who have symptoms that suggest possible meningitis or a possible peripheral joint infection to their physicians who can evaluate them further. Those patients injected in peripheral joints only are not believed to be at risk for fungal meningitis but could be at risk for joint infection. - CDC

If you have not received an injection in the last few months, you have nothing to worry about.  This form of meningitis is not contagious.  If you have had a spinal injection for any reason, you may be at high risk and should talk to your doctor t make sure you do not have any symptoms. 

In addition, those who have received other joint injections in the past months should be slightly concerned.  The CDC says that those receiving joint injections are not at risk from the meningitis virus, but they could have contracted a joint infection. 

As always see a doctor or go to the hospital (St. Mary's or Athens Regional in Athens) if you have questions and/or symptoms.

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