The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

October 16, 2012

UPDATE: 19 Alabamians exposed to recalled injections

— MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Nineteen Alabamians, including one man who died recently, received injections of steroid medicine from a specialty pharmacy linked to a meningitis outbreak.

State Health Officer Don Williamson said Tuesday the 19 lived near the Tennessee and Florida state lines and received the injections in those states. He said one Alabamian who received an injection in Florida has died within the last month and officials are awaiting autopsy results to determine the cause of death. Eleven have shown no symptoms of meningitis, one is being reviewed, and six are still being contacted.

Of the 19, six were treated in Tennessee and 13 in Florida. If any illness or death among those 19 is linked to products from New England Compounding Center, the cases will be counted in the state where the treatment occurred rather than in Alabama, Williamson said.

As of Monday, the outbreak linked to the Massachusetts-based company had sickened 214 people, including 15 who died, in 15 states. U.S. health officials are investigating two other NECC products that may be linked to a patient who got meningitis after a spine injection and two heart transplant patients who got fungal infections.

Williamson said there is no indication that any contaminated products now under investigation were shipped to Alabama.

The NECC has recalled its other products as a precaution. Williamson said those products went to 44 health care facilities in Alabama, but there is no indication any of those products was contaminated.

The state Department of Public Health is in the process of contacting 34 of those facilities, and their names will be released once they are contacted. The 10 that have already been contacted are: the Alabama Outpatient Surgery Center in Jasper, Alabama Pain Physicians in Birmingham, Andalusia Regional Hospital, Birmingham Surgery Center, Brookwood Medical Center in Birmingham, Lanier Health Services in Valley, Medical Center Enterprise, Mobile Surgery Center, Parkway Medical Center in Decatur, and Southeast Eye Clinic in Dothan.

Williamson said the health department is urging the facilities that received NECC products to contact patients who had procedures after May 21 to make sure they are doing well. He also encouraged patients who show signs of meningitis or other infections to contact their doctor.

Signs of meningitis include fever, headache, stiff neck nausea and vomiting. Signs of possible infections include fever, swelling, increasing pain or drainage from a surgery site, he said.

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