The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

October 25, 2012

Unprecedented 'black mold' meningitis a challenge

(Continued)

People who got contaminated steroid shots made by a Massachusetts pharmacy have been told to be on guard for months for meningitis symptoms. But the CDC said Wednesday that the biggest risk for getting sick seems to be within 42 days of receiving one of the implicated back injections.

With the tainted shots recalled in late September, that means the period of greatest risk is nearing an end. And it should help doctors bombarded with calls from the worried determine who most needs a spinal tap to look for the very earliest signs of infection. Still, public health officials recall a 2002 meningitis cluster linked to steroid injections contaminated with a different fungus; one of those victims got sick 152 days after the shot.

Fungal infections don't get a lot of attention, but they afflict millions around the world, said David Perlin of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, who is studying better ways to diagnose them. Most are skin infections like athlete's foot, but fungi also can cause pneumonia, sinusitis and other problems.

Serious infections tend to strike people with immune systems weakened because of cancer, AIDS or other problems. Fungus-caused meningitis in particular is extremely rare— especially in otherwise healthy people like in this outbreak — and it's "very bad news," said Michigan's Kauffman.

While the more common bacterial and viral forms of meningitis tend to strike quickly with obvious symptoms, fungal meningitis grows very slowly and is hard to diagnose. Few antifungal drugs are absorbed into the central nervous system, limiting treatment options. Plus, human cells and fungal cells have a lot of similarities, making it hard to attack the fungus without side effects, Kauffman explained.

The main culprit in this outbreak is a black mold called Exserohilum rostratum, common in dirt and grasses. Only 33 human infections previously had been reported, mostly eye or skin infections in people with weak immune systems, Casadevall said.

Text Only
State and Nation
Photos


Poll

Which foreign crisis is the biggest threat to the security of the United States?

Russia-Ukraine
Israel-Palestine
Iraq
None of the above
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee