Pain Specialists Discuss Meningitis Outbreak

The death toll continues to rise from a meningitis outbreak. As of today, 12 deaths and more than 120 meningitis cases in the United States are being linked to tainted steroid solution from a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts.

But local health officials say there is little reason for residents in the twin states to be concerned.

"There have been no reports of people getting sick in Mississippi or Alabama," said Dr. Ken Staggs of Total Pain Care in Meridian.

According to Staggs and Dr. Eric Pearson, there likely will not be any cases of the virus reported in either state.

"The steroids have only gone to about 23 states," said Staggs. "Mississippi and Alabama are not in those states."

"As far as we know, no one in Mississippi has ordered these contaminated drugs," said Pearson.

The physicians make the point that the injections are safe and the steroids are safe. The issue with the meningitis outbreak was contamination apparently introduced at the compounding pharmacy.

Pearson said Total Pain, for instance, gets its solution direct from the manufacturer, not a compounding pharmacy.

Dr. Staggs also points out that this meningitis outbreak is not contagious because it's not like a typical viral or bacterial outbreak. Instead, it's a fungal meningitis that's tied to steroids that were contaminated by fungus while being developed at the New England Compound Center in Massachusetts. The steroid shots have been given to people to treat chronic or acute back pain.

Because steroids are not used during labor, Dr. Staggs says there's no reason for expectant moms to worry.

"In addition, we want people to know that if you're having a baby and need an epidural, it's completely safe and has nothing to do with it," Staggs said,

Meanwhile, according to officials with the Centers for Disease Control, in response to the outbreak, the potentially tainted steroid vials that were sent to 76 clinics in 23 states have all since been recalled.

With at least six deaths and 39 cases reported, the state of Tennessee is the epicenter for the outbreak with the most number of deaths and cases reported so far.

The symptoms for fungal meningitis include a severe headache, fever, nausea, chills and neck pain.