Macon Woman Has State's 1st Fungal Meningitis Case | News
A 66-year-old Macon woman has the first confirmed case of fungal meningitis in Georgia, according to the state's Department of Public Health.
The woman has not been hospitalized but is under the care of a physician and has been listed as "clinically stable." The state did not release the woman's name.
According to the news release, she received an injection of tainted medication from the New England Compounding Center while being treated for back pain at Macon's Forsyth Street Ambulatory Surgery Center.
Dr. Frank Kelly, a partner at Forsyth Street Orthopedics, which runs the surgery center, said there were 184 patients exposed to the fungus by recieving the recalled epidural injection. 14 of those patients complained of mild symptoms like nausea and headaches.
"13 of the 14 have been evaluated, have been worked up, and thankfully have not been found to have evidence of meningitis. This 14th patient is being evaluated for possible meningitis," said Kelly.
The patient is under the care of an infectious disease physician even before lab results confirm fungal meningitis is present in her spinal fluid. Dr. David Harvey, Director of the North Central Health district says that early treatment is essential to successfully fighting the disease.
"The danger lies in being too relaxed about it and not doing the appropriate thing," said Harvey. "I think if it were me or one of my family I would be very much in favor of going ahead and starting the medicine."
Harvey said fungal meningitis can be difficult to treat, and it is slow to show symptoms. Public health officials say the incubation period of the disease could be four weeks or more than 2 months. Therefore, Kelly said, they still wat the patients who have been exposed to be vigilant.
"We hope and pray nothing will happen but we still need for them to be aware of the potential symptoms and let us know or their physicians know if they have any concerns whatsover," said Kelly.
The drug she received was preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate.
Two other drugs from NECC are being investigated by the US Food and Drug Administration: a drug used in eye surgery and the other paralyzing the heart during heart transplant surgery. But officials say there are no "positive links" between these drugs and the outbreak of fungal meningitis.
Check back with 13WMAZ for details as the story develops.