Tainted steroid shots lead to rare meningitis scare

Doctors on alert; 4 people dead

By Keith Garvin - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - Across the country, and in Houston, doctors are receiving alerts about a rare meningitis outbreak, that has killed four people, and made 26 more sick.

So far, the outbreak has reached five states: Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Florida and North Carolina. But experts said it could spread to more.

It's a rare and deadly fungal form of the sickness and people are taking notice.

"I've never had a reason to get a steroid shot. But if I did, I'd definitely reconsider if there's a risk of getting meningitis, definitely, and I'd discuss it with my doctor definitely," said Houston resident Katherine Devoe.

It's a concern because the genesis of the outbreak appears to be steroid injections from a tainted source.

"It's very common. There are a lot of patients who get steroid injections everyday," said Dr. Rodrigo Hasbun, with UTHealth Memorial Hermann.

But Dr. Hasbun, who specializes in infectious diseases, said the public should not be overly concerned. The drug has been recalled and health professionals are now on alert for symptoms, symptoms that everyone who has recently received a steroid injection should be aware of.

"Fever, headache, stiff neck, light sensitivity, confusion. they should go to should go to the emergency room if they develop those symptoms. But the likelihood is low," said Dr. Hasbumn.

The first few meningitis cases were recorded in July. But this week, five cases were confirmed in a 24 hour period.

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