As many of you are aware, an outbreak of a rare type of meningitis, linked to spinal injections for back pain, is affecting Marylanders.  Specifically, patients who visited certain facilities between July 30 and September 28 were potentially exposed to a steroid drug contaminated with a fungus, Aspergillus. The steroid in question was mainly used as an epidural (spinal) injection for back pain, but some patients received the steroid for pain in such joints as knees, ankles and shoulders.

Our public health community is aggressively working with physicians to contact all persons who may be affected, including some 300 individuals who received orthopedic treatment from respected physicians at the Greenspring Surgery Center at Quarry Lake. Please note that, in contrast to earlier reports, the website for Maryland Pain Specialists in Towson states that no patients received spinal injections of the compromised steroid at any of its locations.

Nonetheless, if there is any question in your mind whether you received a contaminated injection, contact your Doctor immediately.  This form of meningitis, unlike bacterial or viral meningitis, is NOT contagious.  Health officials advise to watch for symptoms of fever, headache, neck stiffness, photophobia, nausea or vomiting; be aware that the gestation period can be more than four weeks.

Unfortunately, this story may not end here. On October 17, Reuters reported that FDA agents raided the company in question and the FDA was expanding its investigation of the outbreak to other drugs produced by the pharmacy (although no other drugs have yet been linked to the outbreak).  Stay tuned.  Remember, if you believe you or a loved one has been sickened due to contaminated steroid shots, call me directly for legal guidance and assistance.

St. Jude Medical Patients: The FDA has issued a new Safety Communication regarding the St. Jude Medical Riata defibrillator lead (the lead is the wire that connects the defibrillator device to the heart). The Riata lead has been recalled due to problems related to potential breaks in the insulation which could lead to failure of the pacemaker.  Call your Doctor at once if this applies to you. I have the advisory letter to share if you need more specific details.

Dr. Longball:  The Orioles came close; thank you Boys of Summer for a great season. A speedy recovery wish to both number 52 and Lardarius.

Be well.   John CM